Family Leave and the Gender Wage Gap
George Washington University Law School, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 001
97 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 1999
Date Written: August 22, 1999
In this article, I argue that the key to achieving greater gender equality in the workplace is finding a way to change the behavior of men with respect to the care of children. Until now, most suggestions have focused on changing the behavior of women or employers, but women continue to face significant disadvantages in the workplace despite substantial changes in their labor force behavior. In the first part of the article, I analyze the latest data and conclude that the gender pay gap reflects both women's actual labor market behavior, which still differs from men's, and employers' exaggerated responses to the expectation that women will leave the workforce to have and to raise children. Through a short empirical analysis, I then demonstrate that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) falls far short of providing the kind of relief that might improve gender inequality, and in the last section I propose that the leave law be amended with an eye on equality. In particular, I propose that we create a contract set-aside program tied to employers establishing generous and successful leave policies.
Note: A revised version of this working paper is forthcoming in North Carolina Law Review, March 2000.
JEL Classification: J0, J2, J3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation