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Kids, rather than gender, may be responsible for wage gap


Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. President Barack Obama said Monday that 50 years after enactment of the Equal Pay Act, the nation still faces gender wage disparities that must be fixed. “This is the 21st century,” he declared. “It’s time to close that gap.”

But KIRO Radio’s Ross and Burbank Show decided that kids are most likely the reason a wage gap exists and it might have nothing to do with gender.

“Oftentimes when women have kids, it makes it more difficult for them to come in at the drop of a hat, to stay 12 hours the way they may once have, and the way maybe their male co-workers do,” said host Luke Burbank.

KIRO Radio’s Kim Shepard agreed it’s very hard to give the same level of attention to a job once you have kids.

“It’s hard to maintain that level of focus at work – even when you’re not at work now. Employers these days expect for work to be number one even when you’re not at the office, and if you have a very full life at home, it’s hard to do that,” she said.

Kim said it’s definitely possible to maintain a great career and have kids, but there likely will have to be sacrifices made somewhere.

“I think if there’s a two-parent working household, a lot of times one of those parents may have a career on a better trajectory than the other one because that other one is more willing or more often makes the sacrifices for the children. Whether it’s the man or the woman, it depends on the marriage, it depends on the situation,” she said, adding that it often tends to be the man who maintains the better career path.

But Luke pointed out that when the situation is reversed, when it is the man who is the one that takes up the greater share of the on-call kid duty, that man will likely be paid less, just as a woman would in a similar situation.

“My sense is that it’s not as much about gender as it is about which person in the family has said, ‘I’m going to have to be the one that when the kid is sick at school and someone’s got to leave work, I’m going to be the one who says to my boss, hey I’m sorry, I’ve got to take the afternoon to go deal with this.’ And whichever person does that, that is going to make it harder for them to rise through the ranks.”

Host Dave Ross said it appears the greatest headway in the past 50 years has been made in the home where roles are flexible.

“I think the main thing that’s changed in terms of what women’s liberation accomplished was that we no longer say it has to be the woman that stays home all the time,” said Ross. “I think there’s always going to be one parent who takes the lion’s share of the on-call duty.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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