Mum skills: challenging the motherhood penalty

Mothers can be dismissed by employers because of gaps in their CVs. Now, a campaign gives mums a way to proudly list maternity leave as a full-time job

The gender pay gap affects women at all levels of society and really hits with what sociologists call ‘the motherhood penalty’ – the impact that maternity leave or career breaks have on employability. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the equality gap could be costing the world £21tn a year – and that’s only the financial loss to society, let alone the skill deficit. Women face a dilemma. Do they include the reasons for their ‘CV gap’ on their applications knowing this may harm their chances of landing a job, or try some creative accounting?

A campaign, launched in the US by Corinna Falusi, chief creative officer of the Mother New York creative agency, offers one solution. The Pregnancy Pause – a page on LinkedIn – allows women to list their LinkedIn job title as motherhood, as well as detailing the skills they learned while on maternity leave. It offers a free, downloadable ‘toolkit’ that includes sample cover letters, and a CV template that lists The Pregnancy Pause as a reference.

The Pregnancy Pause allows women to list motherhood as a job title

“New mothers in the US often feel forced to quit their jobs due to a lack of adequate maternity leave policies which leaves them penalised for the subsequent gaps in their résumés,” says Falusi.

“We hope to make it easier for them to own maternity leave as the full-time job it truly is while spreading awareness of the issue. Employers need to be aware that having a child makes an employee valuable and effective.”


Read more: 3 projects helping mums (and carers) back to work