According to a Pew Research Center research study, stay-at-home parents represent one-fifth of the total parents in the United States, 76% are mothers, and their most significant challenge when returning to the workforce is the resume gap.
The resume gap is the period not accounted for in the resume.
“Oh, yes, but I was lucky I taught adult education classes for a few years,” said Tammy Stanley, a former stay-at-home mom from Onsted, Michigan.
A study by Kate Weisshaar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that parents with a resume gap due to taking time away to care for children are penalized heavily by employers.
Weisshaar explains that employers are wary of hiring people with resume gaps, mostly stay-at-home parents because they see them as less capable and prioritize family over work.
“I was not picky,” remembered Stanley. “Still, I dressed for the job I wanted and walked the chalk line for the first year.”
Stanley found a job at retail because it was the only sector that was hiring at that time.
“Violating ideal worker norms by opting out sends a strong negative signal to employers—a signal that swamps the signals of unemployment scarring,” Weisshaar explains.
The Pew Research Center study also found that another major problem the stay-at-home mothers face is the wage gap disparity.
“The [retail] job did not pay much, but we needed the income,” Stanley remembered.
A September 2020 study, “America’s Women and the Wage Gap,” made by the National Partnership for Women and Families, found that women earned eighty-two cents for every dollar earned by men.
Stanley successfully reentered the workforce, and she is now the Bakery Manager for a national supermarket chain.
As the National Partnership for Women and Families explains, the only way to bridge the disparity in the wage gap is through new supportive policies to “help ensure that women and all working people are free from wage and employment discrimination.”
Although mothers have to deal with penalization for their resume gap and in terms of wage gap disparity, a recent study by the Boston College Center for Work and Family found that mothers appreciate their time away from work to nurture their families.
“I will always have the memories of all the school field trips, birthday parties, and sports,” Stanley said. “Knowing that I was there for them when they needed me will always be a highlight of my life.”