The bitter, shrill, and probably very ugly feminist Neil H. Buchanan at Feminist Law Profs has some interesting data on sex discrimination among lawyers’ salaries, and his analysis also accounts for the parenthood status of the lawyers. Long story short: men with children make more money than everyone else, and women with children make less money than everyone else. Child-free men still make more than child-free women:
My tentative results confirm the “daddy bonus” that others’ have found in other studies, with the range of estimates suggesting a 15-20% salary advantage for fathers. Unlike previous studies, however, I also find a strong suggestion that women with children endure a “mommy penalty,” earning perhaps 10-15% less than the childless (and thus 25-35% less than fathers). I also find some weaker statistical support for the hypothesis that childless women earn less than childless men, with my estimates suggesting an 8-9% difference disfavoring women.
Those of you who are social scientists may want to gaze in admiration at all of the wonky goodness in his study. Me, I’m a bottom-line kind of gal, and that bottom line speaks volumes. Buchanan proposes three possibilities for why men with children are rewarded so lavishly:
[T]hree possibilities: fathers feel the need to work harder to bring home more bread for the family, men wait to become fathers until their salaries are high enough to support a growing family, and (my cynical favorite) fathers shirk childcare responsibilities by hiding in the office and incidentally raising their salaries.
Maybe–but let’s focus on the disadvantages to women, who lose no matter what they choose to do with their uteri. Clearly, women who don’t have children are punished at work, because what the hell are they doing in contract law when they should be home reproducing, and women with children are punished because what the hell are they doing in the D.A.’s office when they should be home with their children? Conversely, men who reproduce are doing exactly what the cultural script of “compulsory heterosexuality” demands: they’ve spawned, and they’re busy providing for their children with their hard work. Men without children are a little more suspect, perhaps because of fear and ressentiment of the gays, but not nearly as suspect as women who expect to be paid for their work. What’s wrong with these broads–don’t they know that their families and society at large are entitled to their uncompensated labor?
That’s what makes the work go ’round, kiddies: women’s volunteer or grossly undercompensated labor. Seriously, Neil–thanks for the crunchy, data-filled goodness. Next time, can you serve that up with a mason-jar sized Pisco Sour?