workingmums : full time or part time ?

couple of weeks late, but thought it was worth a comment or two about the study referred to in ‘the guardian’ on 27 feb which looked at the changing work patterns of women pre and post the birth of their first child.

in short ,  before kids as a woman, you’re pretty much as likely as a man to have a full time job , and actually pretty unlikely to have a part time job .  birth of first child and that proportion of full-time working women clearly plummets ..80% reduces to 15% (in fact interestingly , co-inciding with the proportion of women with a part-time job). so how long does it take for the proportion of women with full-time jobs (and kids) to return to a higher level than the proportion of women with part-time jobs (and kids) ? just 17 years after the birth of their first child. seventeen years – that’s probably double the time most of those workingmums spent in the work-place as full-timers before the kids arrived.

so what does this mean?

well clearly workingmums either prefer or are restricted to part-time jobs (once you’ve had the taste of part-time work , perhaps you’d rather not give it up 🙂  )

….btw we don’t of course quite know how they’re defining part-time work .. seems to be under 31 hours a week – so a four day a weeker like this workingmum would be classified as full-time (and to be honest that’s how it feels , so that’s fair enough)

pay gaps between full-time and part-time wages (per hour) have actually more than doubled in the past 30 years. so we can infer that many of these part-time jobs are probably  not of a ‘professional’ level .. this probably means that there are plenty of workingmums who have the talents to work in roles beyond those that they end up in .

the study suggests that the best way to retain employment in a ‘professional’  job, perhaps at less than five days per week , is to stick with your pre-kids employer. agreed. presumably one of the reasons the workingmums who stick with their pre-kids employer do so (above of course hopefully , liking their job) is precisely because they know how difficult it will to get back into the workplace at a similar level. they made that sacrifice of time with their kids for that.  equally validly, mums who gave up work totally to exclusively be with the kids say until school age kicks in, made that choice knowing there would be a sacrifice further down the line. the point is , don’t kid yourself , being a workingmum involves sacrifice for all but the luckiest.

so when they say plan for your first baby’s not about planning to have enough money to buy the mountains of stuff you need to get through the first year’s about planning to be in a job you enjoy, with an employer who’s prepared to be flexible about the proportion of time you work for them in the future.

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