Pictured: Kiki at the Pennsylvania State Capitol after sharing her story with legislators
DISCRIMINATION. That was the first word on my mind twenty years ago, when I was repeatedly denied employment after I had to divulge in job interviews that I was a single parent.
To this day most people are not aware that in 28 states, including mine, it is NOT illegal to ask a job candidate about their marital or parental status during job interviews. Employers use this information to disqualify women with children from jobs they are qualified to fill — just because they are mothers.
Single moms face a devastating and unfair pay gap. According to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner of MomsRising.org, “Women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, mothers make 71 cents, single moms make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar, and women of color experience increased wage hits on top of that.” My story of hiring discrimination is far too common. Mothers are 80 percent less likely to be hired than women without children — even with equal resumes.1
When I first experienced this discrimination, I became an activist for change when I didn’t even know what an activist was. As a young, politically naïve mother of two, recently forced on welfare because of Pennsylvania’s archaic employment laws, I didn’t know where to begin. I reached out to 9to5 for training, guidance and encouragement. As a 9to5 Action Network member, I had the tools and support I needed to begin to navigate the Pennsylvania legislative system to get bills introduced to protect women from this discriminatory practice. Regrettably, two decades later, we still do not have these essential protections.
I have not given up hope and ask that you don’t give up hope either. Senator Daylin Leach has taken up this cause and has introduced the Pennsylvania Parental Profiling Act. As Senator Leach has stated about parental profiling: “Even if men are asked [about their parental status], they are rarely affected. There’s a stereotype that if kids are sick, women will take care of it. It’s an issue that disproportionately affects women.”
Ending discrimination against moms is a crucial step in closing the gender wage gap. Today I humbly ask you to take action to close the wage gap for women in your community and everywhere!
This blog post is part of 9to5’s collection Faces of the Wage Gap, illuminating the many factors which contribute to income inequality and the necessary solutions needed to reach true economic justice for all women. Please share via social media!
- Rowe-Finkbeiner, Kristen. “Think this doesn’t matter to you? Think again.” MomsRising.org. March 13, 2013.