Another Pew Study

July 18, 2007 | 25 comments
By

See here. Some interesting findings:

–Four out of five full-time working mothers (with children under age 18) would prefer not to work full-time.

–Only one in ten full-time working mothers think that full time work is best for children.

–The less education a mother has, the more likely she is to give herself high marks as a parent.

I’m not entirely sure what conclusions–if any–are appropriate to draw from this study, but I did think the numbers were intriguing. Thoughts?

25 Responses to Another Pew Study

  1. Geoff J on July 19, 2007 at 1:56 am

    Ignorance is bliss?

  2. cchrissyy on July 19, 2007 at 2:10 am

    I think kids are more suited to half-time work.

  3. Jonathan Green on July 19, 2007 at 6:43 am

    Right, we don’t let our kids log more than 20 hours per week in the textile mill.

  4. Naismith on July 19, 2007 at 7:22 am

    I am not surprised by these findings, but saddened that since “The Feminine Mystique” was written in the 1960s, which called for professional part-time work for moms, not much progress has been made in making that kind of work common.

    I haven’t worked full-time since 1976, yet I have an established career and have earned some awards and been nominated to the national board of my professional organization, etc. (I don’t mean to sound braggy, but just to suggest that it is possible to be taken seriously with a part-time career.)

    I’ve been an advocate for part-time employment and have written about how it works for me elsewhere

    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=913

    I had never considered a part-time career until I went to BYU in the mid- to late-70s, where they talked a lot about getting the most education so that you could spend the least time away from your kids. This has worked well for me, and if anything happened to my husband, I could support the family on my part-time salary.

    I sincerly hope to retire without ever having to work full-time, but I dunno. I’m a soft-money researcher and I have to find a new job every few years (although of course after 9 years at this institution, I generally just send out emails to people who know my work, and I have a solid reputation). But it would be much harder for a mom looking for her first job.

    It’s not like anybody advertises a part-time job; I’ve had to fight for it, and convince my potential employer it would work. It helps that I have a long-time friend with some of the skills that are part of my job, and she is willing to work 10 hours a week, and I could handle 30 hours a week now my children are older. Since she earns less than I do (she doesn’t have a graduate degree or formal research training), it’s a savings if they hire us rather than me full-time.

    And people are generally converted once they see it in action. Consistent with studies on part-time workers, I’m much more productive because my time at the office/lab is all work. Except for emergencies, I do the personal phone calls and other stuff after I go home.

    But at the large university where I have been employed, I found out that I am one of only a dozen half-time project coordinators, and some of them are also half-time instructors, so really just a handful of us working part-time. So sad.

    Of course biggest problem with all this is the stupid reality that in the US, healthcare is linked to employment, and many employers do not offer insurance to part-time workers. Many moms have to be employed not for the salary, but for the benefits. My last three employers (two universities and US federal government) have offered prorated benefits for part-timers.

  5. TrailerTrash on July 19, 2007 at 9:15 am

    “Four out of five full-time working mothers (with children under age 18) would prefer not to work full-time”

    I’d be surprised if the same statistic weren’t also true for working fathers. I am not sure that this tells us anything except that people think that it would be great if they didn’t have to work. Not that controversial of a suggestion. It’s like asking people if they prefer to have more money. Who is going to say no?

  6. Deb on July 19, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I guess I need more sleep… when I first saw this title, I thought, “Finally!, somebody want opinions on Church pews! I just hate the new ones in the stake center, with the back pad that is so thick it bows one’s back into unnatural curves, and of course the stake center draws the most long-winded speakers.” Sigh.

  7. Julie M. Smith on July 19, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Actually, TT, if you click to the study, 72% of fathers said full-time work was their ideal, 12% said part-time and 16% said no employment. So there is a huge disparity between the attitudes of fathers and mothers on this issue.

    Sorry, Deb, to disappoint you. I think the pews are miserable, too. Perhaps they are deliberately designed to keep people awake?

  8. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Right, we don’t let our kids log more than 20 hours per week in the textile mill.

    Easy for you to say, you smug, upper-class prig. How dare you sit in judgment on those who are less fortunate, you latte-sipping, polo-shirt East Coast elitist.

  9. bbell on July 19, 2007 at 10:34 am

    I think that there are a few HS aged LDS kids around here who could really benefit from a few hours a week at a Textile mill.

  10. Mike on July 19, 2007 at 10:50 am

    This just appeared in my peepstone:

    A survey of 19th century men reveals the following:

    –Four out of five full-time working fathers (with children under age 18) would prefer not to work full-time.

    –Only one in ten full-time working fathers think that (their) full time work is best for children.

    –The less education a father has, the more likely he is to give himself high marks as a parent.

    I have this ideal image of a golden time when both parents worked in the home; which generally consisted of either a farm or some kind of small home industry like carpentry or a blacksmith shop. Then the industrial revolution raised our standard of living drastically by pulled men out of the home for many hours most days and left the burden of child-rearing on women. Today the cultural revolution is pulling women out of the home and letting the children largely raise themselves.

    I wonder if it might be possible to find ways to return large numbers of both men and women back into the home where they work side-by-side with their children? It would probably involve computers and children are pretty good with them.

  11. Chad Too on July 19, 2007 at 11:18 am

    “Easy for you to say, you smug, upper-class prig. How dare you sit in judgment on those who are less fortunate, you latte-sipping, polo-shirt East Coast elitist”

    Germany has an East Coast?
    German Mormons get to sip latte?

  12. Carson on July 19, 2007 at 11:28 am

    I know that my wife, a full time mother, would enjoy a little break from the kids 1 day a week. We both have always felt it would be therapeutic for her and good socially for the kids to be somewhere else w/ other kids that day. We just haven\’t found a good 1 day a week job…

  13. Frank McIntyre on July 19, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Chad, you can take the smug latte-drinking upper class prig out of the East Coast. But you can’t take the East Coast out of the smug latte-drinking upper class prig.

  14. Frank McIntyre on July 19, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Here’s the post on work force statistics for Utah mothers.

  15. Heather O. on July 19, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Deb–

    I thought the exact same thing. It really must be a sleep deprivation thing.

  16. Gavin Guillaume on July 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    i saw this and I’d expected some treatment by the Mormon Housewives, but apparently this isn’t up their alley.

    Anyway…

    Re TrailerTrash (5) – Assuming the questionnaire presented in the graphic in the article accurately represents how this was posed, I think you can dismiss the assumption that this is a “do you like money” question. It reads to me that the question was “what’s ideal for you” and then presented options. 31% in 1997 said full-time work and 21% said part-time.

    Now, that said …

    There’s absolutely nothing in the study, to me, that suggests the *ages* and *numbers* of the children, and nothing that tells us the current salary and marital status of the mother. I think those are important points. Also — were the SAME mothers in 1997 queried? I think it would be fascinating to see the same people’s opinions, 10 years later.

    I don’t have many proposals on how to fix the sampling, but the note on how it depended predominantly on telephone surveys (how many working professionals in fulfilling professions have the time or inclination to do a telephone survey — as opposed to the harried mother who doesn’t screen her calls and vents on her job?) and minorities. I’m more of an amateur statistician, but this does raise questions.

  17. Gavin Guillaume on July 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    (The study does assume children are under 18, but a Starbucks barista with 3 children under 5, and an accountant with a doctor husband with one 17-year-old, are going to have different opinions on this…)

  18. Julie M. Smith on July 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Gavin, all I saw was that the mother had to have at least one child under 18.

  19. Joshua Madson on July 19, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Mike,

    I’ve always felt the same way. There must be a way to get both parents to be able to work and be at home more.

  20. MrClark on July 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    #10, I like that thought. I would love to really show my son how to work and be a greater part of his education. Sounds like an interesting mix of homeschooling and telecommuting?

  21. Ray on July 19, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Mr. Clark, for the sake of my and my wife’s sanity, I would limit it with our family to an interesting mix of telecommuting.

  22. jjohnsen on July 19, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I’d prefer not to work full-time either, how is this any kind of surprise? Mother, Father, whatever, who wants to be working full time? The surprising part is 1 out of 5 wants to work full time.

  23. KyleM on July 19, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    22. Alot of people tie self worth into their careers. Not me, but lots do.

  24. Jacob on July 19, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    “The parenting ratings also vary by level of education; mothers with more education tend to be harder on themselves than are mothers with less education.”

    Lesson learned: Want to feel better about being a mom, don’t go to school.

  25. Gavin Guillaume on July 19, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Julie, that outlines one of the problems with the study (no breakdown on numbers of children and their ages). It wouldn’t have to be that explicit, but I think that comparing 1-2 children and 3+, and then looking at children 0-10, 10-15, and 15-18 would be interesting.

    Then again, I’m a sucker for a lot of data points.