Mothers wanting to get back to jobs at disadvantage: study

June 17th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  


Sydney, June 17 (IANS) Mothers who take breaks to bring up their newborns find themselves at a disadvantage when they get back to jobs, according to a study. Even though these mothers may be highly skilled and qualified individuals, they have to accept lower status and lower paying jobs once they resume their pre-birth routine, the study found.

The study, by researchers at New Zealand’s Massey University, surveyed 26 women, including a veterinarian, town planners, school principals, consultants and doctors.

All the women were very proactive in their efforts to regain some of the power and control they had once had.

Yet, employers tended to treat them as relatively unskilled labour, believing that they had outdated skills and qualifications. Their performance was considered constrained by motherhood.

The women found it rather difficult to move up the ladder, particularly from casual or part-time work. Such mothers often faced reverse job mobility and loss of lifetime incomes, said Ee Kheng Ang, who led the study.

The sample group of mothers she interviewed had left well-paid professional roles to have children. Social factors, including the need to work close to home and the careers of their spouses had a significant bearing.

For example, because husbands and partners had now pulled ahead of the women in terms of earnings and bargaining power, returning mothers were obliged to put their partners’ jobs ahead of their own in any consideration related to returning to work themselves.

When planning to go back to work, mothers need help from their partners, not just with childcare but also in making the transition back to paid work easier, Ang said.

The study found that, in most cases, partners appeared to expect that mothers combine paid work and home responsibilities in such a way that the home environment remained as unchanged as possible.

It found, however, that employers were generally satisfied with the work of returnees and appreciated their skills and attributes.

But by not compensating them adequately, they contributed to the relegation of returnees to the back of the career queue, said Ang.

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