More mothers dream of working full-time than during the height of the feminist movement, and sheer economics may be the reason why.
A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that women now make up nearly half of America’s workforce. Roughly 70 percent of working age women are either employed or looking for work versus 80 percent for men. The gaps between the sexes are shrinking. Women now increasingly view motherhood the way men view fatherhood, as part of their identity but not the sum total of their life’s purpose.
The growth of women in the workforce has not been steady. While today’s number is greater than the 38 percent that worked in 1970, the number of women working now has not changed all that much since the 1990s.
The increase in working mothers, on the other hand, is much more drastic, and it is only going up. Today 71 percent of mothers take part in in the labor force. In 2000? 65 percent. In 1975? 39 percent.
Compared with 2007, more mothers now say working full-time is ideal for them. This number has fluctuated over the past few decades. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of mothers who felt full-time work was ideal dropped by 10 percent. This suggests that, during the good times, mothers feel less of a desire to go out and work. During the bad times? Well, things have not been so hot since 2007, and the number of mothers who idealize working full-time has shot up to 32 percent.
More than half of both men and women in the workforce experienced a work-related hardship during the past five years, whether that be a loss of work, a cut in pay, or a reduction in hours. More people today want to just be able to make a comfortable living after such uncomfortable times.
There has been a sizable drop in mothers who idealize staying at home. The number hovered just under 30 percent before 2007. Now it is only 20 percent. Far fewer mothers would prefer not to work at all.
Either way, women still bear more of the burden of child-rearing. The percentage of mothers in the workplace is lower among women with younger children than women whose kids are between the ages of 6 and 17.
The economy may have pushed more mothers into demanding greater hours, but the trend has been growing for a long-time now: women are now less satisfied by just raising kids.
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