Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
SALARIES / JUN. 27, 2014
version 4, draft 4

Barack Obama’s Attempts to Help Working Families May Narrow the Gender Pay Gap

The President of the United States has made it one of his chief goals to help America’s working families. He wants to bring the U.S. up to date by making sure that working parents are guaranteed paid maternity and paternity leave. Not only will this help the economy, but it will help close the gender pay gap.

Lagging behind

At present the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of guaranteed paid maternity leave. In fact, the U.S. is among only three countries in the world that admit to not offering any guaranteed paid maternity leave. And out of the 34 so called developed countries in the world, it is one of only two which do not offer guaranteed paternity leave of any kind.

The President has described the current situation as something out of an episode of the 1960’s themed television show ‘Mad Men’, because of how chauvinistic the current policies are. He wants to bring the U.S. into the 21st century where it belongs with the rest of the industrialised world. One of the primary reasons for this move is because the traditional role of a single breadwinner household no longer exists. Most households are either single parents or have two working parents. The President recognises this and wants to help this new generation. “Many jobs don’t offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can’t afford to be there when their family needs them the most. That’s wrong. And it puts us way behind the times.”

What protection is already in place

Currently the U.S. only has one government policy to help working families, The Family Medical Leave Act. This policy which only actually provides women with up to 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave is seen as inadequate. It also only applies to full time workers so it only covers 40% of the workforce. There are some U.S. states and companies such as Google, however, that have introduced their own paid maternity leave policies and have had extremely positive results. A study of 1000 U.S. companies found that 58% offered some form of paid maternity leave. In fact, after Google increased their paid maternity leave from three months to five months and made it fully paid, the number of new mothers leaving the company fell by 50%. This had positive effects for Google as it meant they did not have to recruit or train new staff to replace them.  According to President Obama: “A few states have acted on their own to give workers paid family leave, but this should be available to everyone, because all Americans should be able to afford to care for a family member in need.”

As long as men are unable to take paid paternity leave, the stereotype of men being the sole or main bread winner of the family will continue. It will also allow men to continue to enhance their careers, while women take time off to raise children. The same study that found 58% of companies were offering paid paternity leave, found only 14% were offering paid maternity leave.

Will it bridge the gender gap?

The President has made many claims about trying to help women and working families, but he has not tried to pass any new legislation yet. So it is still unclear exactly how he is going to fund or implement his ideas. Also, countries which have quite extensive paid maternity and paternity leave programs such as the United Kingdom, which allows up to 52 weeks of maternity and 2 weeks of paternity leave respectively, still have a gender pay gap. Women earn on average £5,000 less than men in the UK. Although child rearing and maternity/paternity leave are some of the causes of the pay gap, the exact cause is still unknown.

Any legislation that is passed to implement paid maternity or paternity leave will be progressive and help move the U.S. into the 21st century, but it is unlikely to significantly narrow the gender pay gap despite the best intentions.

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'





Gender Pay Gap an Issue in the USA
SALARIES / JUL 12, 2013

Despite averaging better grades and higher graduates rates at university, females are earning less than their male counterparts upon landing employment after graduation...

Is Sexism The Primary Factor For Gender Pay Gap?
SALARIES / MAR 07, 2014

Lawmakers continually promote legislation that brings about equal pay for equal work, an initiative that is meant to end the small gender gap in pay. One figure is...

ronda rousey
SALARIES / OCT 29, 2015

Ronda Rousey is a UFC champion, multimedia celebrity and arguably the most dangerous woman on the face of this Earth. Oh, and she understands a little bit about economics...

Would You Pay to Work?
SALARIES / MAR 02, 2015

O tempora o mores! Surely this would be Cicero’s response were he right here right now. Newsquest, one of the largest publishers of local and regional newspapers, is...

kids and money
SALARIES / JAN 22, 2014

It would seem that the head of an elite private school has made an attempt to get the government to continue to punish people who work. Far from rewarding those parents...

How to Tackle a Long-term Pay Freeze at Work
SALARIES / OCT 04, 2014

Since the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession, the stark reality is that a large number of us have had to get used to living on a lot less money...

Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'
G up arrow