'Child penalty' leads to '20pc difference in wages'
The so-called 'child penalty' means that women who take career breaks to have a child routinely earn 20pc less than their male counterparts, a new study reveals.
A research paper on the gender pay gap issue, published by the global recruitment agency Cpl Resources, found that traditional gender roles for women in the home and at work haven't changed much over the years.
The study found the so-called 'child penalty' is the largest single reason for inequality in wages between the sexes.
It said women's careers typically stall when they take time out from their jobs to have a child or care for a dependant, and they consequently fail to progress to higher-paying positions.
Citing a study published in Denmark this year using data collected over the past 30 years, the gender gap study found "that most of the remaining gender inequality in earnings is due to having children".
"It leads to a 20pc difference in wage overall, in what is called the 'child penalty'," the paper states.
"There are a lot of women who have been forced to quit the professional world because they are unable to balance the demands of a professional life, the costs of childcare and the juggles of caring for dependants," said Siobhan O'Shea, Cpl's director of client services.
The study also found that only 40pc of women who take maternity leave return to work after having a child, even though 90pc of respondents said they would like to return to work.
"Women cannot survive in a family and economic structure designed for life over 50 years ago," Ms O'Shea said.