When motherhood makes women poor

Many young couples start out as equal partners, but suddenly find themselves taking on traditional gender roles after the birth of a child, thus negatively impacting the earnings of the female parent.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
When motherhood makes women poor - NewsMavens
Mother with children, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Reconciling a child and a career traditionally plagues fewer fathers than mothers. Men also tend to worry less about how many hours they work after returning to their job after paternity leave.

Meanwhile, the question of compatibility between parenting and working is still very much a concern for women.

"The birth of children continues to contribute to great social inequality," says Eva-Maria Schmidt, sociologist at the Austrian Institute for Family Research at the University of Vienna.

In Austria, the significant income gap between women and men, inadequate childcare facilities and existing parental leave models explain why women carry the bulk of housework and child-rearing.

Schmidt says that offering a leave to both mothers and fathers and allowing the couples to redistribute it between them as they wish will perpertuate the status quo. Equality, she believes, will come when the government will make it mandatory for both genders to have the same benefits.

Details from the story:

  • Why is it problematic if the male family breadwinner model is still a common practice? Because years of part-time employment have a massively negative impact on life income. Schmidt says: "Old-age poverty of women is mainly related to their part-time work."
  • "On the international scale, the Austrian system is very generous," says Schmidt. In Belgium, on the other hand, a mother would have to justify herself if she does not work for more than four months."
  • The parental leave for fathers in Austria is much shorter than that of mothers.
  • Just five percent of all paid childcare allowance days are used by men.
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