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Your Boss Is a New Dad—Too Bad for You.

Vivia Chen

January 6, 2013

%c2%a9%20markcarper%20-%20Fotolia.comWhat happens when your boss becomes a parent? Does it make him/her more compassionate? More respectful of your personal space? More lovable? Or does it mean you'll be dumped with more work and even less direction? 

Personally, I think much too much has been made about how parenthood—mainly motherhood—affects management style. I know it's popular to talk about how moms make better CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and masters of the universe. Frankly, I'm skeptical of the theory.

But what about male bosses who become parents? According to a recent study of Danish CEOs, workers do not fare so well—at least when it comes to pay—when babies appear on the scene. Here's how The Economist reports on the salary study:

Male bosses, it turns out, pay themselves significantly more once they become fathers. Even after controlling for factors such as age, length of tenure, and the performance of the firm, the study found that bosses with daughters pay themselves 3.5 percent more than childless ones. If they have a son, that increases to a hefty 6.4 percent. David Ross of Columbia Business School, one of the authors, says all fathers feel a duty to support their families. For grunts this means working harder. Bosses have the more agreeable option of raising their own wages.

The study, which appears in Administrative Science Quarterly, essentially says that once a child enters the picture, men revert to the traditional provider-father role "despite increasing participation by women in the labor force and changing cultural attitudes." 

None of this is very good news for fostering equality, except for this stat: Male CEOs whose firstborn is a daughter tend to be more generous, particularly with female employees. The study says: 

A male CEO pays both his female and male employees more generously after the birth of his first daughter, and he pays his female employees more generously after the birth of his first child. Thus a female employee benefits doubly from the birth to her CEO of a first daughter who is also the CEO’s first child.

So it seems male bosses with daughters (provided they are the firstborn) are more empathetic with the plight of women, while having sons make them close rank. Reports The Economist about the finding:

Ross speculates that this might be because, having seen their wives go through childbirth, they start to respect women more. Alas, such goodwill doesn’t last. Once the boss has a second child, female workers’ wages are likely to fall, just like men’s.

All very intriguing, though I'm not quite sure what the takeaway is. I suppose you could pray that your male boss's first child is a girl. But since that burst of generosity dissipates with a second baby, perhaps it's just wiser to stick with male bosses who are avowedly allergic to children.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email chief blogger Vivia Chen at [email protected] 

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"[I'm not quite sure what the takeaway is. I suppose you could pray that your male boss's first child is a girl. But since that burst of generosity dissipates with a second baby, perhaps it's just wiser to stick with male bosses who are avowedly allergic to children." Comments like this are just one of the reasons that I like reading the Careerist!

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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