Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Survey on Working Moms

A new survey sponsored by TheBump and ForbesWoman, a site I just recently discovered, has a lot of things in it, but the press release highlights a few things in particular:

- More than a third (35%) of moms who had their first child at 30 to 34 wish they had their child at a younger age, and 57% of moms who had their first child at 35 to 39 wish they had their child at a younger age.

- Fertility is not a top reason when choosing an “ideal” age to have a baby. In fact, financial security and being emotionally “ready” to become parents were the top two reasons.

- 62% of women surveyed feel that motherhood negatively impacts a woman’s career. Yet, working moms didn’t feel as strongly about this when it came to their own career.

- Negative feelings dominate when returning to work post-baby. Top five feelings were guilty, overwhelmed, stressed, sad and anxious

- 59% of working moms no longer cared as much about work post-baby.

I would say that those first two things contradict each other. If you wish you'd had your children younger, but your ideal time to have a baby is largely determined by your financial stability, then you're stuck. I'd also like to know why women feel that motherhood negatively impacts a career. Does that change if the father also makes sacrifices for the children?


Kerry Scott said...

I think these surveys are a bit useless, since there's no context.

Example: I wish I had my children younger from a physical standpoint. I was 34 with the first and 36 with the second (I'm 38 now). I had some serious complications, particularly with the second pregnancy, that would have been less likely to have occurred had I been 10 years younger.

However, I wasn't ready in any category 10 years before. So for me, the ideal age was probably...34 and 36. Surveys don't capture the complexity of issues like this.

As for why motherhood negatively impacts careers...I think it's the little things. I was an airline executive when my second child was born. My husband did the daycare drop-off, and I did the pick-up. That meant I had to leave by 4:45pm every day, to get there before they closed. My (older and male) peers stayed well beyond then. I missed a lot, because I left at 4:45pm, even though I got right back on email after my kids were in bed. Sick days were another example; although my husband was willing to trade off staying home when the kids were sick, the kids wailed nonstop for "mama" when he was home with them, and never once wailed for "daddy" when I was on duty. I felt like crap every time...and I ended up insisting on being the one to stay home as a result.

Even if the father is ready and willing to do his share, it's hard.

eldgie said...

I'm a bit late to the party, I know...

If 35% wish they had had kids earlier, doesn't that leave something like 65% who DON'T feel that way? Maybe THAT group of women should be mentioned.

Agree completely with Kerry that a survey is unlikely to accurately capture the subtleties of how each of us negotiates her life.

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