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The Motherhood Penalty: Working Moms Are Making Less

In countries where employment law encourages work-life balance, the wage gap tends to be smaller than it is in the United States, thanks to longer maternity leaves and more paid time off. Countries such as Finland, France, Norway, and Sweden all have federal laws requiring at least 30 paid days off for workers, and have lower pay gaps than does the United States (however, the pay gap in the EU is still very real, as well). In the absence of such legislation in this country, your best solution is to seek work at companies that have a good reputation for working moms.

Start your research by reading what leading business magazines have to say about the best companies for working moms. Working Mother magazine each year compiles rankings of the top 100 companies, based on categories like maternity leave, phase-back programs, and advancement. Not only can you choose to apply for a job with those companies, but you can also use those criteria in evaluating other prospective employers.

In a tight job market, it may be difficult to turn down any job offer, even one you know is not equitable. Even in hard economic times, wage discrimination is not acceptable. It's important to know your rights. The advocacy group Work Life Law provides a hotline for employees who suspect they may be victims of wage discrimination. They can provide information about applicable laws, and even recommend a local attorney in some cases.

You may also find it helpful to familiarize yourself with U.S. labor law. Here are some resources to get you started:



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