The Motherhood Penalty

06.10.09 Study finds big pay gap between working moms and women with no children.

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We've heard the numbers before about the salary gap between men and women. But what about working moms vs. women without children? (Who knew!) According to a study published in the American Journal of Sociology, the pay disparity between mothers and childless women is bigger than the gap between men and women, Business Week reports.

Researchers found that a mother was 100 percent less likely to be hired when she applied for a position. Mothers were also ranked as less competent and less committed than non-moms. According to one of the study's authors, Shelley Correll: Moms "were also offered $11,000 a year less pay, on average, than an equally qualified childless candidate."

With pregnancy discrimination complaints rising, experts urge women to remember that many people are ingrained with strong but outdated beliefs that women shouldn't work full time when they have children. In addition, employers might fear that a working mom will be unable to give the job her full attention due to family demands. Discrimination can even take the form of "friendly" advice.

So how to counter this if you're expecting and job-searching? Follow some tips from the National Partnership for Women & Families. Keep the interview professional. If asked whether you have children, skirt the issue by either bringing up your skills or coyly asking, "Are you allowed to ask that?" If personal topics come up, always bring the conversation back to your skills, experience and ability to get the job done. If you do need some flexibility schedule-wise, mention it upfront and offer solutions that will benefit the company and you and your family.

But all is not lost, workers of the world! Moms-to-be can learn to stay fit, healthy and happily employed while expecting and after the baby arrives with our Working Woman's Guide to Pregnancy.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.