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A new study shows the pay gap is reduced between working mothers and women who don't have children when mothers have access to flexible work arrangements.


Published in the journal Work and Occupations, sociologists at the University of British Columbia investigated the link between flexible work arrangement given to mothers and the impact it had on their pay, against those who were childless.


The study, one of the first of its kind, found that their results varied depending on a women’s education.


The researcher's results showed that flexible work hours reduced the motherhood wage gap by 68 percent, while the ability to work from home reduced the wage gap by 58 percent.



Taking the level of education into account, the researchers included whether mothers had a high school diploma, non-university post-secondary education, a bachelor's degree, or a postgraduate degree when calculating the data.


They discovered flexible hours made the biggest differences to mothers with a postgraduate degree.  Without flexible hours, such mothers earned seven percent less than childless women.


Among mothers who had access to a flexibility in their hours, earned 12 percent more compared to childless women who also had flexible hours.



The research also revealed the importance of reducing barriers to employment in higher-paying firms for mothers.


Explaining the findings, Sylvia Fuller, the study's lead author and associate professor in the UBC department of sociology, said it was an important lesson for hiring managers.


"Our findings suggest that, when companies allow work to be organised in a flexible way, they're less worried about hiring mothers," said Fuller. "Not only does flexibility make it easier for mothers to do well in their jobs, but it also alleviates concern from the employer that they'll be able to."




In order to conduct the study, researchers used data from Statistics Canada's Workplace and Employee survey gathered from 1999 to 2005. The sample included 20,879 women, of which 58 percent were mothers, between the ages of 24 and 44.


The data gather built on earlier research from Fuller that found mothers overall tend to earn less than childless women because they tend not to be hired by the highest paying firms.


Fuller said the results highlight a need for employers to look at their hiring practices to ensure they are not discriminating against mothers, as well as to consider allowing flexible work arrangements.


"Flexibility might not be possible for all jobs, but it is appreciated by workers generally and makes good business sense in terms of attracting and retaining highly qualified employees," she said.






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