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Motherhood Widens Gender Pay Gap, Study Finds

For women in the workforce, motherhood brings many new responsibilities—but also much less money than their male counterparts.

That's according to a new study from Payscale, a compensation research firm, that shows the gender pay gap is most pronounced when comparing the salaries of married working men with married working women.

Those findings support research surrounding the so-called "motherhood penalty," which has shown that the salaries of working mothers slipped as much as 4 percent per child compared with the salary increase men experienced once they became dads.

What's causing the disparity, however, is still up for debate.

"It's a little bit tough because we have the data showing that gap, but what we don't have is the why," Lydia Frank, Payscale senior editorial director, tells CBS News Moneywatch.

The research firm also noted that women's salaries tend to peak between the ages of 35 and 40, reaching an average of $49,000, while men's salaries peak between the ages of 50 and 55, with an average salary of $75,000.

What might account for that, according to CBS, is both a cultural bias that women should stay home with young children but also that "men are more likely to ask for raises more often than women."

What's particularly interesting is that men are reporting that they're prioritizing family life in greater numbers than women, according to Payscale, with 52 percent of working dads saying they put "home and family commitments over work at least one or two times a month, compared with only 46 percent of women."

In its research Payscale also looked into the familiar Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that women make roughly 78 cents for every dollar that men earn. While that statistic is upheld generally across all careers for men and women, when the research firm controlled for "similar characteristics working the same jobs," that gap narrowed to women making roughly 3 cents less than their male counterparts, which is still a discrepancy.

However, it's when women get married, start families while also climbing the corporate ladder that the numbers really widen. Men tend to get promoted faster than women, according to Payscale, which falls in line with a recent report from the Pew Research Center that found that 41 percent of women reported that being a parent made it more difficult to advance at work, as compared with only 20 percent of working fathers.

Payscale's Frank asserts that the demands of family life, however, shouldn't be considered an issue solely for working moms.

"Employers have to support the fact that employees have people in their lives they have to take care of," Frank tells CBS. "Traditionally those duties have fallen to women, so this has become a women's issue because of where those responsibilities for care have fallen. But as things have shifted and we're balancing those responsibilities, it'll be less of a woman's issue and more of a worker's issue."

Image via Twenty20/maayan227

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