Guys Still Earn More, But Young Dads in Asia Want More Family Time

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Wanted to point you to two excellent TIME articles currently on our site. One is by my smart colleague Julie Rawe, who wrote a piece yesterday for titled, “Women’s Pay: Lagging From the Start.” It begins (bolds mine):

If you heard a lot of fuming or sighing around the water cooler on Monday, it’s because word is spreading about new data that shows women are already earning less than men before the ink on their college diplomas has dried. The study, which looked at more than 10,000 people who received bachelor’s degrees in 1999-2000, found that just one year after graduation, women who are working full time earn only 80% as much as their male counterparts do. True, female students tend to major in fields associated with lower earnings, such as education and health professions, which accounts for part of the wage gap. But even among co-eds who majored in the same subject in college, men are still earning more money than their female counterparts just 12 months out of the college gate.

Yick! Those findings come from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, which also found that “the salary gap gets considerably wider over time, with women earning 69% of what men earn 10 years after graduation,” as Rawe writes. She adds:

But the one-year data is particularly telling, since new graduates are not likely to have had children yet and since they are entering the work force without significant prior experience than can affect starting salaries.

Men in the workforce may still be financially advantaged. But more men of my generation are feeling the stresses of working parenthood–at least in Asia. An unnamed reader of yesterday’s post about Gloria Steinem reminded me of the terrific recent cover story in TIME ASIA, written by my talented colleague Liam Fitzpatrick (who, like me, is half Asian despite his Emerald-Isle name). It’s titled “Dad’s Dilemma”:

Fathers all over Asia share that sense of guilt over their inability to balance work and parenthood. Dr. Sanjay Chugh, a New Delhi psychiatrist, says these harried, overburdened men stream through his consulting rooms: “Indian fathers have less and less time to spend with their children. When stress goes up for a father, it affects not only the quantity of time he spends with his children but the quality.” Some, like a 35-year-old human-resources manager in Tokyo, who asked not to be named, blame unsympathetic employers. “At my old workplace, most of the people in my department didn’t have children,” he says. “I don’t think they understood the importance. I was unable to take any holidays after the birth of my son.” Others point to the old Asian culture of networking, in which deals are done over endless cups of sake and soju. “I really thought I’d be the kind of father who spends a lot of time with his kids,” sighs Ahn Chan, an office worker in Seoul. But, come evening, he feels obliged to drink with colleagues and clients, and hardly sees his 4-year-old. “Sometimes when we run into each other, she looks very sad and starts demanding that I stay at home,” he says.

How sad. Here’s why it’s important that Asian dads–no, make that dads everywhere–figure this out:

Every day, pleading overwork, millions of men cancel millions of promises made to millions of children. Dads cannot read bedtime stories or go to the park. Dads are in their offices, or on the road, or on conference calls. The effects of this physical or emotional absenteeism are actually quantifiable: numerous academic studies have shown that children with distant fathers score lower on tests of empathy, reasoning and brain development than those whose fathers are more involved. The former behave more aggressively, don’t get on as well with siblings, tend to be less popular in school and are more reluctant to take responsibility for their misbehavior. In 2002, the U.S. National Center for Policy Analysis concluded that kids with physically absent fathers were up to three times more likely to use drugs and engage in criminal behavior. Last month, an Israeli study reported that children with absent fathers were more likely to have trouble forming new relationships, whether the absences were permanent or shorter term. When children reach school age, Australian psychologist Paul Amato found, fathers are even more important to self-esteem than mothers.

Back to Gloria Steinem’s point: work/life conflicts affect mom, dad and the kids. Let’s make it matter to our employers.