In 2007, Stanford University Professor Shelley Correll set out to understand why women weren’t advancing in their careers. She believed one powerful reason was motherhood, and so, with a team of professors from two other universities, Shelley conducted research about attitudes toward mothers in the workplace.
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The research team presented 192 undergraduates with a series of potential job applicants for a marketing job at a telecommunications company. After controlling for race and gender, the key distinguisher was that one set of applicants included on their resumes that they had been a Parent-Teacher Association Coordinator and had two children. The other resumes made no mention of their roles as parents. The results were definitive:
• Non-mothers were recommended for the job 84 percent of the time, while mothers were recommended only 47 percent of the time
• The recommended starting salary for mothers was 7.4 percent less than non-mothers
• The mothers were rated as less promotable and were less likely to be recommended for management
• The mothers were also viewed as less competent and less committed
OK, this proves that undergraduates are biased against mothers, but they don’t have significant work experience. Shelley Correll and her team wanted to know what happens to mothers when they try to get real jobs.
They sent similar resumes to open jobs listings for entry and mid-level marketing positions. Again, the only distinction between the sets of resumes was that one indicated participation in the PTA and the other did not. Same name, same skills, same background. Then they waited for callbacks. Non-mothers were called in for an interview 2.1 times more often than mothers. Lesson learned? Mamas, if you want to get a job, hide your truth.
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