Mom’s Equal Pay Day

According to a National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) analysis of U.S. Census data, Mothers in the U.S. who work full time are paid an average of 69 cents for every $1 a father makes, or $18,000 less annually.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate—the percent of the population working or looking for work— for all women with children under age 18 was 71.2 percent in 2020, down from 72.3 percent in the prior year. This decline in labor force  likely reflects not only pandemic-related job losses, but also the shift of many schools to distance learning and the temporary closure of many childcare facilities during the pandemic. This impacts and reinforces the difficulties caused by the existing pay gaps faced by working mothers.

                      Graphic via 

American mothers bring in 40 percent or more of their families’ income. This means that the wage gap impacts their entire households which rely heavily on their wages to make ends meet and build economic stability. Policy change is a vital need for families struggling due to these inequities. Legislators must offer support through laws that promote fair pay, address workplace discrimination and harassment, and ensure the economic security of working families.

“About one-in-five working parents, including 23% of working moms and 15% of working dads, say they have turned down a promotion because they were balancing work and parenting responsibilities, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau Current Population Survey data. Another study found that 17% say they have been passed over for an important assignment and 16% say they have been passed over for a promotion because they have children. Mothers are more likely than fathers to report each of these experiences.”

It’s Time to Stop Treating Parenting as a Mom’s Burden and a Dad’s Adorable Hobby

Policies and structural changes are essential, but on their own those can’t change our cultural attitudes and behaviors toward women. Until we stop treating parenting as a woman’s burden and a man’s adorable hobby, the gender gap we see at work and at home won’t disappear.

The Motherhood Penalty: Why We're Losing Our Best Talent To Caregiving

The latest Bright Horizons’ annual Modern Family Index found that:

  • 69% of working Americans say working moms are more likely to be passed up for a new job than other employees
  • 60% say career opportunities are given to less qualified employees instead of working moms who may be more skilled
  • 72% of both working moms and dads agree that women are penalized in their careers for starting families, while men are not

Why the Pay Gap for Working Moms Is a Race Issue Too

To begin to unravel the tangled mess of institutionalized discrimination and racism that exists throughout our country, we must also look deeply into our economic system. 

The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce

Today, many families with young children must make a choice between spending a significant portion of their income on child care, finding a cheaper, but potentially lower-quality care option, or leaving the workforce altogether to become a full-time caregiver. Whether due to high cost, limited availability, or inconvenient program hours, child care challenges are driving parents out of the workforce at an alarming rate. In fact, in 2016 alone, an estimated 2 million parents made career sacrifices due to problems with child care.

The Wage Gap Is Wider for Working Mothers

Mothers in the U.S. who work full time are paid an average of 69 cents for every $1 a father makes, or $18,000 less annually, according to the National Women’s Law Center’s (NWLC) analysis of U.S. Census data. Referred to as the “motherhood penalty,” this wage gap is wider than the one between men and women in general in the U.S. The financial loss mothers experience is greater in some states and for women of color who are mothers.


In 2020, 9.8 percent of families included an unemployed person, twice the figure of 4.9 percent in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The increase in unemployment among families reflects the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market.

Learn More Below


The Choices Working Mother’s Make – US Census: REPORT

California Budget and Policy Center: What Does It Cost To Support A Family In California?

Breadwinning Mothers Are Critical to Families’ Economic Security – Center for American Progress: ARTICLE


“Identifying and correcting the places where intended or unintended inequalities exist is where we begin to rewrite the status quo. We have to approach transformative change with a new lens — one that inspires us individually and collectively to look at our biases, root out our prejudices and work toward a more just future for everyone.

So this Mom’s Equal Pay Day, let’s commit to valuing the working moms in our society and paying them their real worth.”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom

First Partner of California, Time Magazine, June 4, 2020