Work-life balance, personal life: mothers, always the first to sacrifice their careers

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The balance between family and professional life still relies heavily on mothers, especially for employed or working women, according to a study by Drees, Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics, published this Tuesday, March 5. Mothers are “much more likely to be unemployed or part-time” than fathers “for child-related reasons,” notes Drees, based on the 2021 Child Care and Acceptance Survey, which looks at families with at least one child under the age of 6.

“This situation is sometimes forced, especially among working or working mothers, for financial reasons or because of their employment conditions,” analyzes Drees. In half of the surveyed families, men and women are in a similar situation regarding employment (full-time, part-time, unemployment, inactivity), and 46% of them work full-time.

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When one parent is more “distant” from employment than the other, it is the mother in 5 out of 6 cases: 42% of mothers and 8% of fathers, in detail. Among couples with small children, mothers are twice as likely to be unemployed as fathers (28%, compared to 13%). Unemployed mothers are also 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).

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Furthermore, 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% are part-time (1% of fathers). Namely, employed or working mothers are more often than those with managerial status forced to stop their activity for their children, notes Drees.

Not surprisingly, working mothers or workers are less likely to work full-time (44%) than mothers who are executives or those in higher intellectual professions (74%). Drees explains this with lower pay and more restrictive employment conditions (inability to work remotely or change schedules in case of unforeseen circumstances, irregular schedules from week to week, etc.). “When parents can't find a solution for child care, it's mostly mothers who are responsible for unselected parental care,” Drees emphasizes at the end.

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