Parenthood wage gaps in multinational enterprises

Khadija van der Straaten, Niccolò Pisani, Ans Kolk*

*Corresponding author for this work

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While multinational enterprises (MNEs) are widely recognized for providing employment to a significant number of women around the globe, empirical evidence suggests that existing gender inequalities may be aggravated rather than alleviated in their subsidiaries. We build on gender theory to better understand how gender is construed and enacted differently in
MNE subsidiaries compared to domestic firms, particularly with regard to the differential effects of parenthood on wage gaps for male versus female employees. Because of the relatively more demanding working conditions in MNE subsidiaries and their gendered policies and practices, we hypothesize that the motherhood penalty and fatherhood bonus are larger in MNE subsidiaries than in domestic firms. Using an extensive database of micro-level data of over 36,500 employees in 57 countries, we find a larger fatherhood bonus in MNE subsidiaries compared to domestic firms, but no significant difference in the motherhood penalty. Our results suggest that shifting entrenched gendered social beliefs and divisions of household
labor is not the only pathway to gender equality, and call for a critical examination of gender-related values, perceptions, policies, and practices in MNEs, beyond a focus on supporting women (with children). We discuss managerial, theoretical,
and societal implications accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2024

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Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2024.

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