Mothers sacrifice their careers more than fathers, study reveals

This is the inequality that exists in couples. According to a study by the Department for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Drees) on families with young children, published this Tuesday, March 5, 2024, the connection between family and professional life depends largely on mothers.

They are “much more likely to be unemployed or work part-time” than fathers “for child-related reasons,” the Drees note, based on the “Young Child Care and Acceptance Model 2021” survey, which studies families with at least one child under 6. “This kind of situation is sometimes forced, especially for employees or working mothers, for financial reasons or due to employment conditions,” the statistical service analyzes.

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Twice as often unemployed

In half of the investigated families, men and women are in a similar situation in terms of employment (full-time, part-time, unemployment, inactivity), 46% are full-time. When one parent is more “away” from employment than the other, it seems to be the mother in 5 out of 6 cases: 42% of mothers and 8% of fathers.

Among couples with small children, mothers are twice as often unemployed as fathers (28% vs. 13%). Unemployed mothers are more involved in the family sphere than unemployed fathers: children spend much more time during the week alone with the unemployed parent when it is the mother (25 hours per week) than the father (9 hours).

31% of mothers do not have a permanent job because of the children (compared to 5% of fathers): 16% are unemployed (4% of fathers), 15% work part-time (1% of fathers).

“Unchosen parental care”

Employed or employed mothers are more likely than executives to be forced to stop working for their children, the Drees also note. They are less often employed full-time (44%) than mothers in managerial positions or in higher intellectual occupations (74%). The Drees explain this by lower incomes and more restrictive employment conditions (impossibility to work from home or change schedules in case of unforeseen circumstances, irregular schedules from week to week, etc.).

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“When parents can't find a solution for childcare, it's mostly mothers who take responsibility for unselected parental care,” Drees emphasizes at the end.

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