Mothers are significantly less likely to go back to work than fathers after having a child, and are also much less likely to get promoted if they do.
This is according to a new report for the Government Equalities Office.
Researchers found only 27.8% of women were in full-time or self-employed work three years after childbirth, compared to 90% of new fathers.
What’s more, out of the women who did return to work after becoming a parent, researchers found they were two thirds less likely to get promoted in the five years after the child was born compared to their male counterparts – with 26% of fathers receiving promotions or moving to a better job compared to 13% of mothers.
The study also found 17% of women left employment completely in the five years following childbirth, compared to 4% of men.
The researchers conducting the report, from the universities of Bristol and Essex, looked at how childbirth affected employment and career progression across a sample group of more than 3,500 new parents.
They used data from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), to to follow 2,281 mothers and 1,687 fathers for three or five years after their baby was born.
The results found women increasingly withdraw from employment after childbirth, and the more children a mother has the more likely she is to stop working full-time.
One of the researchers, Professor Susan Harkness, from the School of Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, said: "The results of our study highlight how gendered employment patterns are following childbirth, with men typically remaining in full-time work and women leaving full-time work.”
She continued: "This loss in work experience, and in particular full-time work experience, is an important part of the explanation for the gender pay gap and suggests women still suffer economically as a result of taking on childcare responsibilities.
"Worryingly, it appears that women who return to employment typically see their chance of moving up the occupational ladder decrease.
"Women who return to the same employer risk becoming stuck in their job roles with limited career progression."