Last week I found myself in conversations talking about maternity leave twice. I am at a crossroads in my life where I have just graduated and am now working to get the career I desire. I am in no way ready for a family, but it is starting to be a niggle now that I am no longer in education, that when I am ready to have a child, it’s going to be a darn sight harder for me than if I were male. 

I would like to think that getting paid fairly to my male counterparts won’t be something I have to worry about in my working years, with equal pay for equal work, especially as there is no discount for being female, but with 78% of companies favouring men in pay in April this year, this is still blatantly a major problem. Why is this still a “thing”? In the UK, male and female students have the same education, so why would one body form be better at a job than another? I know what you’re thinking, we’re built genetically differently, but I think Allyson Felix just blew that excuse out of the park when she beat Usain Bolt’s record just 10 months after giving birth. That’s not even a year after creating another human.


Gender pay gap image Zoë Bateman
Image by Zoë Bateman

As Hillary Clinton says, ‘women have every right to be mothers without being penalized at work’. Since the 1950s, where the woman was the housewife, and the man was the breadwinner, a lot of gender norms have shrunk and disappeared, but due to biology, one has stayed prominent: women raise children. This means that a woman will spend three more months caring for children in a year than a man, so she will then not often move up in her career, and this is the heart of the gender pay gap.

It doesn’t make sense to me that just because the male in the parenting team cannot give birth to the child or create milk, he gets on average only two weeks off work (at minimum rate) with his child before the woman is on her own, often receiving 52 weeks, (with the first 6 at 90% of her salary). If there were equal pay across the board, then there would no longer be the idea of the male being the breadwinner of the family, and if there were equal maternity and paternity leave, then after the mother has given birth to the child, the parenting team is truly equal. Surely?

Iceland has progressed differently (possibly to do with their rise of female politicians). Three months for the mother, three for the father, and 3 to be decided between them, and as a result, their attitude has changed to see the father and mother as equal carers. The pay gap could be down to being a mum, not being a woman; but why should men not have that chance to be a dad in the same way, and both sexes have equal chances at being the breadwinner or the carer?

So, as was said regarding the recent extinction rebellion recently, nothing will change until there is action from parliament… so what do you think Boris?

Image by Zoë Bateman- Photographer 

Instagram: @zoebatemanphotography

Article by Collective Photographer Kate Wolstenholme.

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