Newsflash: Working moms prefer part-time employment

July 17th, 2007

GooI’m a little late in commenting on this, for reasons I’ll explain later this week (no, I’m not knocked up). But I couldn’t let Friday’s media feeding frenzy du jour slip by without weighing in.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Pew Research Center revealed that the number of working moms who find part-time employment ideal — as opposed to full-time employment, or sitting out the employment merry-go-round altogether –has jumped to 60 percent in the past decade. (It was 48 percent in 1997.) You can read more of the stats here.

On the one hand, is this really news? I mean, doesn’t anyone with multiple responsibilities and to-do lists coming out of their ears want to work less? We’re not our first-wave feminist mothers and grandmothers with something to prove: We now know we can take office work or leave it (that is, if we can afford it, which most of us unfortunately can’t).

On the other hand, only 12 percent of the working dads Pew surveyed thought that part-time work was ideal for them. Sure, most single- or dual-parent families can’t live off a part-time salary (or two). But why are today’s dads so much more squeamish than their female counterparts about sitting out a couple days of office work? Is it that they don’t want to get “stuck” at home changing diapers and folding laundry? Are their identities — even in this sensitive-DIY-male day and age — so wrapped up in being the manly breadwinner? Or is it just that they (wisely) can’t get past the hits in pay, benefits, and even career advancement that often come with part-time work? (And since women can get past all this more often than their male counterparts, are we just a bunch of suckers? Or are we simply more disposed to putting quality of life first?)

Hopefully studies like this will continue to drive home the need for more fair ‘n flexible work options for parents and non-parents alike. And for parents, my hope is that more and more couples will continue to take that long, hard look at the division of household/financial labor when weighing who should work and who should stay home (if that’s even a financial option). And hopefully the next time someone does a big fancypants study like this, they’ll bother to ask the non-parents what they think, too. I, for one, would love to see the number of non-parents who prefer part-time work. I have a sneaking suspicion they’d be similar across the gender lines.

Entry Filed under: Overworked and underpaid,Working moms

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. heymarci  |  July 17th, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Excellent point about the non-parents.

  • 2. Liene  |  July 17th, 2007 at 8:02 am

    Ditto on the excellent point about the non-parents. I’d be curious to see the results of that study too.

  • 3. zee  |  July 17th, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I think it is patently absurd to demand that a business make accommodations for the so-called working parents. Make your damn choices and live with them. It sickens me that women and other whining minorities still demand that someone else pay for their damn choices. The boomer generation was bad enough but then they had to spawn the moist narcissistic ‘i-want-my-cake-and-eat-it-too’ generation of malcontents the world has witnessed. Thank god men (who still have their balls) have the common sense to stay in the workplace. And a far better workplace it would be if the self-absorbed harridans of the world would STFU.

  • 4. Michelle Goodman  |  July 17th, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    who let in the pat buchanan fan club? no, seriously, while i don’t favor giving married breeding folks more workplace perks than their single counterparts (like, what if i had a gig with good insurance and wanted to put an elderly relative in need of better medical care on my plan? why should only parents get this +1 or +2 or +3 perk?), i will say this: like it or not, we’re still an incredibly family-centric society. so why not use it to our advantage? moms can be pretty convincing when they want to be (seen lately?) — in fact, i’ve seen a hell of a lot more parent groups storm congress than singles advocates. and when moms get companies and congresspeople to embrace fairer, more flexible workplace policies, it can only be good for ALL of us.

    case in point: i’m currently working onsite for a client (which i promise you will hear more about soon) in a department that champions flexible work arrangements. and who do you think is spearheading those initiatives? the managers with kids at home who they can’t wait to see at the end of the day. but there are many singles in the department, too, all of whom benefit from this “as long as you get your work done, feel free to make your own hours and work from home once in a while” policy. one of them even hauls her ass up a mountain every weekend to do search and rescue work. no way could she manage that schedule if she had to be at her desk till 5 pm every friday.

    moral of the story: what’s good for moms is good for everyone. and if you’re just here to bash women and minorities, i suggest you take it outside…

  • 5. Jenny  |  July 19th, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Those moist narcissistic malcontents are the worst. Maybe if those harridans weren’t so self-absorbed they could make the effort to dry them off a little.

  • 6. Renee  |  January 11th, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I agree that numerous women want part time jobs who also work at home. Working at home is a job in itself whether people realize it or not. I just read an article about women picking jobs or relationships and many choose careers. It is really interesting so check it out at The Corner Office or a Boyfriend

  • 7. Dottie  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I have a free ebook that answers vital questions like, am I suited for a home based business, how much can I make, which home business would be right for me, what does it cost, etc. It’s at my website for anyone interested.

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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