Blog Post

Public Support for Working Mothers in Decline

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A new study by Cambridge University has found that growing numbers of men and women are concerned about the impact of working mothers on family life. The study, conducted by Professor Jacqueline Scott compared results of social attitude polls from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s involving as many as 5,000 people in the U.S., Great Britain and Germany.  In 1998, 51% of women and 45.9% of men believed family life would not suffer if a woman went to work. By 2002, those numbers had fallen to 46 percent of women and 42 percent of men. In the U.S. those numbers decreased even more dramatically from 51 percent in 1994 to 38 percent in 2002. Professor Scott told BBC News that the notion that there is growing public support for women taking an equal role in the workplace rather than their traditional role in the home is “clearly a myth.” "Instead, there is clear evidence that women's changing role is viewed as having costs both for the woman and the family,” she said. “It is conceivable that opinions are shifting as the shine of the 'super-mum' syndrome wears off, and the idea of women juggling high-powered careers while also baking cookies and reading bedtime stories is increasingly seen to be unrealizable by ordinary mortals." While a change in attitude is not the same as a change in behavior, it still matters, Prof. Scott said.   The report calls for further investigation of why the attitude shift is occurring. Is it because caring for the family is seen as women’s work or because people feel there is no practical alternative to a woman taking the role. “Women, particularly mothers, can experience considerable strain when attitudes reinforce the notion of that employment and family interests conflict. If we are to make progress in devising policies that encourage equal working opportunities for women, we need to know more about what gender roles people view as practical, as possible and as fair."   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.