Work & Family (See
also Workplace Issues)
Moms and Jobs:
Trends in Mothers’ Employment and Which Mothers Stay Home
David Cotter, Paula England, and Joan Hermsen, Council on Contemporary Families, May 07. Contrary to recent press accounts, mothers are not "opting out" of the workforce. "Rather than a strong downward trend," the authors explain, "there has been a flattening out of the trend line, so that mothers' employment has stabilized, with a majority employed." Fact sheet, 10 pages in .pdf
A "Stalled" Revolution or a Still-Unfolding One?
The Continuing Convergence of Men's and Women's Roles
Molly Monahan Lang and Barbara J. Risman, Council on Contemporary Families, May 07. A disproportionate amount of attention has been given to a few pieces of data suggesting that women are abandoning the effort for equality. As we show here, the bulk of the evidence shows a decades-long trend of convergence between women and men in their behaviors, and in their gender attitudes. Yes, men and women continue to exhibit some differences in these respects. And among low-income groups, where economic stress and job insecurity make family life less stable, there are fewer signs of convergence. Overall, however, the trend is toward greater convergence in men's and women's values and behavior, in and out of the home. Briefing Paper in HTML
Married Mothers in the Labor Force:
Trends in labor force participation of married mothers of infants
Sharon R. Cohany and Emy Sok, Monthly Labor Review, Feb 07. A new compilation of data from the U.S. Current Population Survey indicates that while workforce participation rates of married mothers of infants fell by 6 percentage points between 1997 and 2005, the overall labor force participation rate of married mothers of older children remained relatively stable, declining by only 2 percentage points. Labor force activity for mothers of infants declined across all education levels and, for most groups, at about the same rate. Full article, 8 pages, in .pdf
Are Women Opting Out? Debunking the Myth
Heather Boushey, Center for Economic Policy Research (www.cepr.net), Nov.2005. Women's employment data "provides no evidence" to support rumors an "opt out" revolution is underway. In fact, when Boushey study data from 2004, she discovered "the impact of having children in the home on women's labor force participation (the 'child penalty') fell compared to prior years," and concludes any recent declines in mothers' rates of employment is consistent with labor force participation trends of women workers overall. 16 pages, in .pdf
The Opt Out Myth
EJ Graff, Columbia Journalism Review, Mar 07. "The problem is that the moms-go-home storyline presents [work-life] issues as personal rather than public -- and does so in misleading ways. The stories’ statistics are selective, their anecdotes about upper-echelon white women are misleading, and their “counterintuitive” narrative line parrots conventional ideas about gender roles. Thus they erase most American families’ real experiences and the resulting social policy needs from view."
"Opt Out" or Pushed Out? How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict
The Untold Story of Why Women Leave the Workforce
Joan C. Williams, Jessica Manvell and Stephanie Bornstein,Center for WorkLife Law, Oct 06. Based on a systematic analysis of over 100 news articles, the authors find that since 1980, major press coverage of women and work-life conflict has failed to tell the full story of why women leave the workforce. The study recommends and provides background data for a more accurate, alternative story line that counters misleading reports of women happily trading in their careers for at-home motherhood.
Full report, 69 pages in .pdf
Employment Rates Higher Among Rural Mothers than Urban Mothers
Kristin Smith, Carsey Institute at the University of NH, Fall 2007. For the past 25 years, rural mothers have consistently had higher employment rates than urban mothers. Employment rates increase with education for both rural and urban mothers, but while employment rates among rural mothers rise substantially with education level, rates among urban mothers taper off at higher education levels, leaving a large discrepancy in employment rates among rural and urban mothers with college degrees.
Fact Sheet in HTML
Overworked, Time Poor, and Abandoned by Uncle Sam:
Why Don’t American Parents Protest?
Janet C. Gornick, Dissent Summer 2005
"Why do American working parents accept the paltry public supports? Why don’t they object to the absence of paid family leave, the weak working-time protections, and the near total absence of public investment in child care?" Full article in HTML
The Morality of Time: Women and the Expanding Workweek
Kathleen Gerson, Dissent, Fall 2004
"The evidence simply doesn't support the assertion that most Americans are working long hours either to indulge an outsized desire for material goods or to escape the difficulties of life at home. In our analysis of a national sample of American workers about their strategies for juggling work and family time, we find that the source of growing time pressures can be found in our social conditions, not our personal values." Full article in HTML
Working Moms under Attack
Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Dissent, Fall 2004
"American mothers are under attack again. The new attack is not like that of the 1950s and 1960s, which faulted stay-at-home mothers for "smother love," "momism," and schizophrenogenic behavior that turned their sons psychotic. It is aimed instead at women who hire other women as household help and child-care surrogates, so that the mothers are free to pursue demanding professional and managerial careers." Full article in HTML
Heather Boushey, Center for Economic Policy Research, Aug 06. Analysis of national data on married, dual-earner couples who manage child care by working alternating schedules finds that "tag team" parents are more likely to be younger and have lower incomes and less education than dual-earner parents with concurrent work schedules. Report, 26 pages in .pdf
American Time Use Survey – First Results
Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).
Sept 2004. The ATUS represents the U.S. government’s first systematic
effort to collect information about the actual number of hours Americans expend
in specific non-paid
activities such as housework, recreation and child care. The new
report, which is based on a 2003 survey of 21,000 individuals age
15 and over, confirms once again that women living in households
with children under 18 put more time into domestic tasks and care-giving— and
less time into leisure and recreational activities— than
men in comparable families. News
release with highlights in PDF;
and tables in HTML
Commentary on ATUS Findings,
including links to original charts (in PDF) comparing time
spent in selected activities by mothers and fathers.
Sept 2004. Commentary in HTML
Shared Work, Valued
New Norms for Organizing Market Work and Unpaid Care Work
Eileen Appelbaum, Thomas Bailey, Peter Berg, and Arne Kalleberg. The Economic Policy Institute (www.epi.org),
Dec 2001. “For a century or more in the United States until the mid-1970s, the husband-as
breadwinner and wife-as-homemaker system governed social attitudes toward paid
work and unpaid care. But with the rapid increase in the paid employment of mothers,
that model has been supplanted in favor of a system in which all workers -- male
or female -- can hold a full-time job provided they conform to employers' notions
of a worker unencumbered by domestic responsibilities. This model of organizing
paid and unpaid work has left most American working families anxious about their
ability to care adequately for their children and aging relatives, stressed by
the demands of work, and starved for time.” Full report in PDF
U.S. Lags Behind
in Family-Friendly Work Policies
Eileen Appelbaum, Women’s Enews (www.womensenews.org),
Workplaces have not adapted to the dramatic changes and needs of U.S. families
and women shoulder much of the burden. Employers and the government need to
find solutions to allow employees, male and female, to care for their jobs
and their families.
Full article in HTML
Generation and Gender
in the Workplace
The Families and Work Institute (www.familiesandwork.org)
with the American Business Collaboration.
Oct 2004. This study found that Gen Y and Gen X workers were
much less likely to describe themselves as “work centric” (12
to 13 percent) than Baby Boomers (22 percent). “In contrast,
50 percent of Gen Y and 52 percent of Gen X are family-centric compared
with 41 percent of Boomers.” 34 pages
The Widening Gap:
A New Book on the Struggle to Balance Work and Caregiving
Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org).
IWPR Publication #C349. Oct 2001.“This Research-in-Brief is based
on selected findings from a new book by Jody Heymann, Director of Policy at
the Harvard Center for Society and Health.
Published by Basic Books in 2000, The Widening Gap: Why America’s Working
Families are in Jeopardy and What Can Be Done About It reveals the failure of
our nation’s employer-based support system to help families meet their
caregiving responsibilities.” Research
brief in PDF
Family-Friendly Policies: Boosting Mothers’ Wages
Heather Boushey, Center for Economic Policy Research (www.cepr.net), 6.Apr.05. The present-day wages of mothers who used paid maternity leave were 9 percent higher than those of mothers who had taken no leave; the wages of mothers who had taken “self-financed” maternity leave were not improved compared to the wages of non-leave takers. The study also found that mothers who received some pay during their first maternity leave were more likely to remain employed. Overall, 28.5 percent of mothers in the survey sample had paid maternity leave, and another 18.4 percent relied on other forms of paid leave after the birth of their first child. 62.3 of mothers “self-financed” their maternity leave— either left their jobs or used unpaid maternity or other leave. 26 pages in .pdf
When a part-time
job equals full-time work
Marilyn Gardner for The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 2003. Plain
copy from the Council on Contemporary Families (www.contemporaryfamilies.org). “’A
lot of women reduce their work hours to have more time with their children
or partner,’ says Rosalind Barnett, a researcher at Brandeis University. ‘But
if they're spending the extra time on household tasks, that doesn't translate
into better relationships with their family, whether it's the spouse or the children’.” Full article in
and women's employment: what do we know?
Philip N. Cohen and Suzanne M. Bianchi, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Dec 99.
This report re-examines the methodology used to calculate mothers’ labor
force participation and concludes that only 35% and 38% of all mothers with
young children work full-time, year-round for pay. Full
article in PDF
American Prospect Special Report: The Mother Load
March 2007. Why can't America have a family-friendly workplace? Links to individual articles appear below. Link to special report index
Janet C. Gornick. How Europe supports working parents and their children.
The Architecture of Work and Family
Ellen Bravo. To have a job and a life, we need to redesign the national household.
Jodie Levin-Epstein. The business case for employment that values fairness and families.
The Opt-Out Revolution Revisited
Joan C. Williams. Women aren't foresaking careers for domestic life. The ground rules just make it impossible to have both.
What About Fathers?
Scott Coltrane. Marriage, work, and family in men's lives.
The Mother of All Issues
Tamara Draut. What it will take to put work and family on the national agenda.
Values Begin at Home, but Who's Home?
Heather Boushey. In the struggle to balance work and family, work is winning.
What Do Women and Men Want?
Kathleen Gerson. Many of the same things -- but our system contributes to gender conflicts over work, parenting, and marriage.
Shellenbarger: Work & Family Column
for the Wall Street Journal/careerjournal.com
Full archives of Sue Shellenbarger’s columns are available at http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/workfamily/index.html
Work Is Good for You, And Skipping Vacation Can Kill
Mar 2003 “In a nine-year study of 12,000 middle-age men at risk for
coronary disease, researchers found those who failed to take vacations had
a higher risk of death from any cause, but particularly from heart disease,
than those who took regular vacations”
Too Many Tasks Could Make You Stupid
Feb 2003 “A growing body of scientific research shows one of jugglers'
favorite time-saving techniques, multitasking, can actually make you less efficient
and, well, stupider. Trying to do two or three things at once or in quick succession
can take longer overall than doing them one at a time, and may leave you with
reduced brainpower to perform each task.”
a Cease-Fire Help Women Professionals?
Dec 2002. “Tired of 30 years of sniping over whether it is better
to work or stay home with your kids, women's and mothers' groups are finding
common ground on issues that span women's concerns as both parents and family
Professionals Face Extra Work as Chauffeurs
Jan 2003. “A study by the Surface Transportation Policy Project,
Washington, D.C., found mothers, employed or not, drive 20% more than average
shuttling their kids around. And new federal data released this month show
all American drivers are averaging 11% more time behind the wheel than in 1995.”
Breadwinners Face Special Work-Life Angst
Oct 2003. “These lone breadwinners’ image— as single-minded
workers free to focus on their jobs and snare all the promotions while their
wives tend to home and hearth — is often sadly out of line with reality.
Instead, they’re torn in two directions, hard-pressed to be good providers
in today’s flat-out workplace while pouring themselves into being sensitive
fathers and husbands at home.”
for Mothers Before They Return to Work
Jul 2003. “As more women stop work these days to raise kids, then jump
back into” the work force after a few years, they're forgetting a crucial
step: Planning for it.”
Maternity Leaves Are A Danger to Working Mothers
May 2004.“Taking a long maternity leave helps stave off the postpartum blues, concludes
the study of 1,762 working mothers for the National Bureau of Economic Research,
Cambridge, Mass., a private nonprofit research organization. Mothers who take
at least three months off after childbirth show 15% fewer symptoms of depression
after they return to work, compared with women who take six weeks or less. Those
who take at least eight weeks show 11% fewer symptoms.”
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