Was this the sound of the President of the United States leaning in?
If Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling manifesto, Sallie Krawcheck’s 85 Broads and Tory Burch’s nonprofit weren’t enough to convince you the gender debate is having its moment, President Barack Obama gave the discussion a jolt during his State of the Union address Tuesday when he addressed the gender pay gap, declaring “it’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.”
The reference to AMCAMCX -1.72%’s “Mad Men” exploded online, inspiring 33,555 tweets per minute, according to Twitter’s government and policy analytics team.
“Women deserve equal pay for equal work,” Obama said. “She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or a sick parent without running into hardship.”
It’s a compelling sound bite, but can government really get corporations to shed “Mad Men” practices in a “2 Broke Girls” age?
Women earned 76.5 cents for every dollar men did in 2012, a figured that’s barely changed over a decade. And a lot of factors affect that, such as the fact that women often choose less lucrative fields than men do, or may be less aggressive when it comes to asking for a raise. But economists believe one of the biggest factors is that women end up working fewer hours because they spend more time caring for children or other family members.
Wall Street Journal — If the pay gap between women and men is rough, the gap for mothers is punishing. A pair of studies found that women with children who are employed in the U.S. suffer, on average, a 5% wage penalty.
Could government policies close the gap? Obama called for raising the minimum wage, a move that could help boost women, who make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers.
But that’s unlikely to fix the motherhood penalty. Family-friendly policies in other developed countries have helped keep more women in the workforce, but those women are also more likely be working in less demanding professions or working part time, according to research by Francine Blau, a Cornell University economist.
In short, they still get mommy-tracked. If you’re female, you still have better odds of becoming the boss and working full-time here in the U.S.
So what does seem to be working? Take a look at Quebec. When it began to offer “daddy-only” paid paternity leave, the number of fathers taking leave jumped by 58 percentage points, and their female partners were more likely to return to their pre-childbirth employers.
Even after parental leaves came to an end, the men who had taken the paternity leave were more likely to pitch in around the house, especially with tasks such as cooking and shopping, said Ankita Patnaik, an economics Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University who’s studying the program in Quebec.
By SARA MURRAY, Wall Street Journal
Posted on January 29, 2014
So, About Those ‘Mad Men’ Workplace Policies…