Can women overcome motherhood penalties by quickly returning to their jobs after childbirth? Do employers discriminate against fathers who take extended family leave? To answer these questions, I exploit some unique features of the parental leave system and job application process in Germany. The findings from my field experiment show that mothers who take nothing beyond the mandatory leave of two months are 50 percent less likely to be invited to a job interview than mothers who stay home for a year after childbirth. There is, however, no difference between fathers with short vs. long leave. The findings from my laboratory experiment suggest that employers seem to value different traits in fathers with short and long family leave, which in sum tend to cancel each other out but they discriminate against mothers who “lean in” and “act like men” for violating prevailing gender norms.
The Sociology Seminar Series is convened by Bastian Betthäuser and Dirk Witteveen. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact email@example.com.