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Women and Employment

Women and Employment

Changing Lives and New Challenges

Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Shirley Dex and Heather Joshi

How is women’s employment shaped by family and domestic responsibilities? This book, written by leading experts in the field, examines twenty-five years of change in women’s employment and addresses the challenges facing women today.

Chapter 7: Working Full-Time After Motherhood

Susan McRae

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, family and gender policy, labour policy


Susan McRae INTRODUCTION This chapter explores the experiences and characteristics of women who work full-time after having children. The findings are drawn from three surveys which tracked women from the time they gave birth in late 1987/early 1988 until 1999, when the child was between 11 and 12 years old. The pattern of increasing labour force activity among women with dependent children is well known. In Britain in 1966, 11 per cent of women with dependent children were economically active; some four decades later in 2004, this had risen to 67 per cent of women with dependent children. Over half of mothers with pre-school children have jobs, rising to almost 80 per cent of those whose youngest child is aged 11 or older (Summerfield and Babb 2004). It is also well known that the majority of women work parttime after becoming mothers. Surveys of new mothers examining the provision and take up of maternity rights and benefits from 1979 onwards have shown a steady rise in mothers’ part-time employment, from 19 per cent of all new mothers in 1979 to 54 per cent in 2002. There was over these years a rise also in full-time employment among new mothers, but to a substantially lower level. Full-time employment among new mothers stood at 5 per cent in 1979 and reached 24 per cent in 1996, only to fall back to 18 per cent in 2002 (Callender et al. 1997; Daniel 1980; Hudson et al. 2004; McRae 1991). Despite the...

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