Here’s $5 that says that the title of this post alone will incite your ire and rage to such an extent that you will comment mercilessly before you even finish reading this sentence.
Juuuuust kidding, I don’t think you’d do that. But I do think you’d be interested to know that in a study written up in the New York Times, researchers found that women with M.B.A.’s suffered the most financially as a result of taking time off to raise children. Those who suffered least? Doctors.
The study was written by a couple of Harvard economists (always stirring the pot) and was released at a conference last week. According to the Times:
The study found that female M.B.A.’s who have taken off 18 months from their career to raise children suffered a severe income penalty, leaving them earning 41 percent less on average than male M.B.A.’s…and female M.D.’s [who took off the same amount of time] earn 16 percent less than male doctors.
The article goes on to talk about professions in which the number of women is growing — veterinarians and pharmacists, as well as certain kinds of medicine that allow for more flexible hours. The conference where the study was presented, Focus on Workplace Flexibility, was designed to draw attention to the need for more flexible schedules in the American workplace.
So, yeah. It’s a mixed bag — on one hand, it’s pretty awesome that attempts are being made to draw attention to the problem. Of course, it’s unfortunate that we live in a country where taking only 18 months off can set you back by 41% financially, and that most companies don’t help with childcare onsite which would allow a lot of women to stay at work.
It’s also unfortunate that the burden of raising children still falls primarily to women — although I will say that I wonder how much of that is by choice. For instance, I know that I want to stay home with a kid once I pop one out. Granted, the nature of my job means that I’ll still be able to work.
At any rate, the problem exists, and as we all know admitting it is the first step. So conferences like this will hopefully mean that the next step is figuring out a solution, in whatever form that may take. I doubt that our country will begin to adopt a Mediterranean value system and institute a siesta, thereby placing more emphasis on healthy lifestyles than working, but you never know. Maybe we’ll get an hour or two of childcare a week at work, for starters.
Now give me my $5 back.