Study quantifies ‘brain drain’ of professional working mothers

Work Life Balance


A third of women managers move down the career ladder after having children, according to new research.

Two thirds of these did clerical jobs or other low skills jobs. Women managers of shops, restaurants and hairdressers took the biggest drop in status and took jobs as hairdressers, sales assistants and other lower paid roles. Teachers and nurses were least likely to lose status on going part-time.

The research by academics from the University of East Anglia and Oxford University, published in the Economic Journal, found that nearly half of the managers who opted to work part-time after the birth of a child took jobs where the average worker does not have A levels.
The study said that women were not downgrading their status because they wanted to, but because flexible work at their level was not available.

Another study in the Economic Journal by Gillian Paull of the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that having children was the overwhelming reason why women sought part-time work. It found four fifths of women are in full time work before the birth of their first child, but only a third with pre-school aged children worked full time. Fathers were more likely to work full time after the birth of a child. The study found that the gender pay gap is being entrenched as a result as the gap for part time jobs is larger than that for women in full-time work.

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Working mums ‘have no leisure time’

Working mums have no child-free leisure time, according to Australian research.

The research, Contemporary Motherhood: the Impact of Children on Adult Time by Dr Lyn Craig, showed that working mothers were the least likely group to have any personal time compared with non-working mothers, fathers and single parents.

Non-working mothers with wealthier partners could buy themselves an average of 24 minutes a day of leisure. Fathers got in an average one hour and 12 minutes a day to relax without children [and more on Saturdays] and single parents got around 20 minutes a day, possibly because they were more reliant on wraparound care or because the children spent time with their fathers.

Government accused of u-turn over flexible working

The Government has been accused of backing down on plans to extend flexible working.
A review of current flexible working legislation is to report back in a few weeks’ time. It had been expected to consider extending the right to request flexible working – currently restricted mainly to parents of children under six – to all parents of children under 18.
Small businesses, however, have campaigned vociferously against such an extension and last week Business Secretary John Hutton said that the review was only likely to promote a small increase in the current age limit for fear a wider extension would lead to companies being overwhelmed by requests and having to turn most down.
Businesses were very happy at his comments, but the TUC said they had opposed flexible working legislation at every stage. The Conservatives have pledged to extend the right to request flexible working to all parents.

Young women do most unpaid overtime

Young women without children are the most likely to do unpaid overtime, according to a report by the TUC.
Over 24% of young women without children do unpaid overtime, declining to 17% for women with children. However, men with children do the longest hours of unpaid overtime – at an average of 8.3 hours a week.
The TUC said that the long hours culture presents working mothers with a difficult choice: work long hours and earn promotion or care for their family.
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