Lawyers’ Salaries: Mommy Penalties, Daddy Bonuses, and Pure Gender Effects

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5 Responses

  1. Your explanations appear to assume the absence of discrimination by the employer and that salaries are pure functions of quantity, and perhaps quality, of work. I believe it is fairly well documented that women with children are assumed to be less committed to their careers and are treated accordingly (which can make it a self-fulfilling prophecy). There is also a long history of employers assuming that men with children need and should get higher salaries.

    Regarding explanations based on the employee, however, another factor to look at is the employment status of the other parent and/or the daddy’s partner. Most small children I know whose moms are lawyers have dads who are employed full time. Most small children I know whose dads are lawyers have moms who are home with them at least part-time. A stay-at-home mom is also a stay-at-home wife who supports her husband’s career on everything from ability to move for a job to shouldering a much larger share of the non-child-related aspects of personal life.

  2. Neil H. Buchanan says:

    My thanks to Prof. Hendricks. To be clear, I do not believe that there is an “absence of discrimination by the employer and that salaries are pure functions of quantity, and perhaps quality, of work.” The statistical approach that I’m using (common to almost all empirical studies of discrimination) is to rule out the nondiscriminatory motives as systematically as possible. If we can rule those out, then discrimination is the remaining explanation.

    There are shortcomings to this methodology, as there are to all statistical methodologies; but it is NOT based on a belief by the researcher that there is no discriminatory intent. Rather, it is an attempt to figure out how much of the differences can be explained by other factors.

  3. Anon says:

    How about a simple evolutionary explanation for the so-called “daddy bonus”? Men that succeed at work are very likely to be the same men that succeed at reproduction. For example, we know that taller and more attractive a man is, the more he gets paid. Those are the same traits that are likely to lead large reproductive success for men.

    Here are some relevant links just based on a brief google search: and

  4. Miriam Cherry says:

    “[f]athers feel the need to work harder to bring home more bread for the family, men wait to become fathers until their salaries are high enough to support a growing family, and (my cynical favorite) fathers shirk childcare responsibilities by hiding in the office and incidentally raising their salaries.”

    It’s not cynical. Take a look at the research that has been done on the “second shift.” Also, take a look at the work of Joan Williams at Hastings who writes about discrimination against mothers – the so-called “maternal wall.”

  5. Mama73 says:

    The lawyers I know at the park I go to all decided to work part-time. When they did that they were assigned tasks that don’t pay as well. (Leases for real estate, etc.)

    They don’t mind, and they don’t worry about their careers. They DO understand they’ll have to ramp up when their kids are older–but don’t see it as unfair.

    Incidentally, the lawyer father I know with a stay at home wife is very involved with his little girl and boy. He isn’t home a lot, but when he is, he is with them.