So, I wrote this article with the famous scholar and PRSA’s 2008 Outstanding Educator, David Dozier, and one of our graduate students, on the impact of career interruption and child bearing on income. In non-academic terms, this means we looked at whether women taking time off from public relations work to have babies suffered in their salaries when they returned to the workforce. The short answer? Not really. Women who took time off from work came back making only $148/year less than women who had never taken time off from work. So that’s the statistic. What’s the reality?
I took six weeks off work to have my first child and six hours (yes, hours) off work to have my second child. My economic situation post-childbirth included outrageous expenses (like for diapers and other stuff that one uses then throws away!), plus priceless expenses (like a daycare provider that I would trust with my helpless infant’s life, literally). The statistics may show that taking time off to have children is a relatively cheap endeavor, judged by annual salaries; but the statistics don’t tell the whole picture.
And speaking of the whole picture, our study found that women STILL make less than men, even taking into account such factors as time off from work (for whatever reason) and years of professional experience. This gendered salary discrepancy remains in public relations, even after decades of research data, going back to before I was born. Gives a whole new meaning to “my cheap baby”! Clearly, we women have NOT come a long way.
Dr. Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR is an associate professor, School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University. She served as vice-chair of PRSA’s Work, Life and Gender Committee, 2004-2006.
Join Bey-Ling, along with Dr. David Dozier, for their co-presentation, “How Much Does My Baby Cost?: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Income, Career Interruption and Child Bearing,” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, November 7-10 in San Diego, CA!