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Career Interrupted

The Economic Impact of Motherhood

Beata Caranci, SVP & Chief Economist | 416-944-5069

Date Published: October 12, 2010



  • An aging population will place greater pressure on firms to attract and retain high-potential women to fill skill shortages.
  • But, the Canadian workplace may be experiencing a topping out of female participation among the core working age group (25-44) – the feeder pool into higher level positions.
  • The unexplained portion of the gender gap appears to largely capture a ‘motherhood gap’.
  • Skills atrophy plays a smaller role in the motherhood gap than first thought.
  • The length of absence is generally found to be less damaging than the frequency of absences.
  • Women incur far less financial penalty the more experience they build before exiting, irrespective of the length of time they ultimately remain out of the workforce.
  • Returning to the same employer also reduces the wage penalty.
  • Firms should self-explore whether the non-linear career path of mothers is penalized as a negative signal of labour force attachment or ambition.

 Full report in PDF format is available here.