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Working Mothers

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  • Pages: 23
  • Word count: 5565
  • Category: Mother Work

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This paper examines the benefits and the negatives of the mother who works either due to financial need or her own desire to do so. Such concerns are whether or not having a working mother negatively affects the children emotionally and/or academically. This paper will explore how maternal employment affects of the child as well as the mother.

For many new mothers the decision to return to work is a difficult one. For some the decision may be as simple as they just have to, whether they are a single parent supporting the entire household or due to economic reasons beyond their control, both partners have to work to support the household. For other mothers, it is a different decision entirely; they want to return to work. For whatever reason a mother chooses to return to work this personal decision finds many mothers scrutinized. The amount of mothers working outside of the home has grown to over 50% compared to 30% of women working in the 1970’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999).

In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 35.5 million women with children under the age of 18 in America, more importantly, 24.1 million of those women work outside of the home (Tong et al., 2009). With this substantial increase many experts are questioning the impact it has on the child. Studies have been done on everything from the emotional, academic, physical impacts of a working mother on her child as well as how the stress of a working mother can also have effect development. My aim of this project is to research on working mothers- the advantages, disadvantages, problems and reasons behind their decision to work Inorder to do this. I have conducted a survey by handing out a questionnaire of 17 questions to 25 working mothers . I Have tried covering the different fields in which women work, to give my project a broader outlook and to be able to get a more accurate analysis.

Through this topic I have learnt a lot. The topic allowed me to learn a lot about working mothers- how they think, what they feel. Etc. This project actually made me realise how efficient women really are. Society expects women to be sitting at home and only handling the housework because they feel that is all that women can really do. But that is definitely not the case. Women are as efficient as men and as capable as men to handle the pressures of a workplace at the same time handling their families. This project also helped me develop my analytic skills. I was able to conduct a survey and then was able to analyse the results by creating bar graphs and pie charts. This was truly a great learning experience for me. I always thought that a survey is a simple set of questions that one has to answer. But I did not know how difficult it was to actually construct a perfect questionnaire inorder to get the desired results. This project also allowed me to be able to construct a fairly good questionnaire. But most of all, this project has helped me use my theoretical knowledge in practical application.


For centuries, women have been expected to fulfill the ideal role of both perfect wife and mother, and this meant putting the family first before their own needs. If for whatever reason, a woman acted out of the norm— chose to speak her mind, chose to work outside the home— then her husband was criticized for not handling her properly. Throughout the history of man, women have stayed home and taken care of the family and home with rarely any assistance from the husband. Since he was the breadwinner, it gave him the perception that bringing home the money was sufficient work, that it was all the work he had to do. It was left to the mother, the wife, to feed, clean and clothe the children. If a mother chose to not pay attention to her family, she was ostracized. This still holds true for today.

The mother is criticized for not placing the needs of the family first far more often and severely than is the father. For example, if there is a newborn in the family, and the mother chooses to go back to work immediately after its birth, she is told by society that she’s not doing her real job. Society doesn’t criticize the father for leaving a newborn child to attend work; he is, in fact, applauded for considering the financial needs of his family An argument has been set forth that since women can breastfeed, they must—for the health and proper development of the child— stay home during the early stages of childhood. Thus, the woman is placed in the difficult position of having to balance the multiple roles expected of her with the roles she wants to carry out for herself.

Women today have changed the arena of the workplace. The workplace is no longer male dominated. Women have also started showing the world that they too are capable of working and earning money for their family and for them selves and at the same time are capable of tending to their families needs. I chose this topic because right from the beginning of time- the misconception of men being the sole breadwinners of the family and women just have to sit at home all day long taking care of the kids, cooking food, cleaning the house etc bothered me. I felt that women are capable of much more than just doing household chores. Through this project of mine I would like to change the concept and idea of a typical working mother. My project includes a survey to support my study. My project mainly concentrates on working mothers- the advantages, disadvantages and problems faced by them.

What are the reasons that drive mothers to work? Is it jus because they enjoy it? Or because their family needs that additional income? Is it because they feel they woukd not be satisfied as a stay-at- home parent?Is the decision of mothers wanting to work a right one? Or muat they stay at home and handle only the household affairs. These are some speculations and controversial topics related to working mothers. Challenges faced by working women in India. What led them to take up jobs? The financial demands on the Indian families are becoming fiercer by day. The sky rocketing cost of living, increasing expenses on education of children, increasing cost of housing properties in India force every family in India to look for ways and means of increasing the household income. As a result, women in India who were mostly known as homemakers are forced to go for jobs and take up even careers that were considered only suitable for men such as working in night shifts in call centers or BPOs. They are left with no option but to fend for their families in all possible ways.

Working women in India are faced with lot more challenges than their counterparts in the other parts of the world. In India men do not share on most of the household chores, it is women who have to cook, clean the house,
do the dishes, wash clothes, get their children ready for school etc. Men just took care of few chores that are to be dealt outside the house. So the major burden of running the family is on the shoulders of women. It was alright for women to handle all the chores as long as they were homemakers. Now with their increasing need for getting some income for the family, they have to work all the more harder. They have to take up a 9 to 5 job plus handle all the household chores that they handled as a homemaker. Men’s role has not changed much.

Women have started sleeping lesser than before because only when they wake up early they can cook for the family, get themselves ready for the job, get their children ready for the schools, so on an average, women lost 2 hours of sleep per day and up to 14 hours sleep per week.

If they happened to work in a highly pressurized environment, then they will bring home their work and that cuts few more hours of sleep. It is not just about the reduced sleep, but such a lifestyle builds stress. This stress is passed on to the family and frustration level builds up in the family. This leads to relationship problems.

They have to handle harassment’s at their work place, sometimes just over look things to ensure that their job is not jeopardized in anyway. Many Indian families are still living as joint families along with the parents and in-laws. This adds to their stress further because they have to please all the family members of her husband. Listen to their complaints that they make against her and turn deaf ears towards them and so on. Overall, majority of women in India look towards or live in the hope that things will change. Some of us have given up that hope and learnt to accept that nothing can be done about it. India has a long way to go before our women will be able to live their lives to the full.


* Increased independence.

* Financial rewards-the chance to raise the standard of living of your family.

* Career fulfilment-the chances to use whatever training and qualifications you may have.

* More intense interaction with your child when you are at home.

* Intellectual need to work-you may feel bored and lonely at home.

* Ability to maintain a high profile in your chosen field of work.


* Sense of guilt and inadequacy because you feel you are neglecting your child.

* Isolation from the community.

* Extreme tiredness because you will be juggling two jobs at once.

* Great Stress due to dual responsibilities and the need to be constantly planning ahead.

* Resentment of the other full-time mothers in your community.

* Difficulty and concerns about finding and keeping good children.

A theory on working mothers by Hochshild and Machung(1989).
An increasing number of women nowadays are faced with the task of juggling the roles of mother and employee. Whilst some studies report that working mothers experience high levels of stress as compared to unemployed mothers (Hochshild & Machung, 1989), others conclude that mothers who partake in paid employment benefit greatly for a number of different reasons (Barnett, Marshall & Sayer, 1992). Research has focused on two competing theories.

The first is the role enhancement theory, arguing that paid employment benefits women psychologically and socially through increased social interaction with fellow adults and increased self esteem that comes with financial independence and increased status.

Other research has focused on the role overload theory, which argues that working mothers are faced with the demands and pressures of juggling multiple roles, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion and adversely affecting women’s health. Hochschild (1989) found that women who work outside the home are faced with a second shift or additional working month of 24 hours per annum compared to working men with children.

In a study by Baxter and Westin (1998), it was found that married women performed around 64% of the total amount of household work and that their contribution as compared to married men was particularly high when it came to work indoors (78%) and childcare (67%). Whilst on average men reported spending around 23 hours per week on childcare and 9 hours per week on housework, women reported 58 hours and 24 hours per week respectively. Incompatibility between work and family life arises due to a number of factors. For instance, a mother who would like to progress in her career and obtain a promotion may feel she has to spend longer hours at work like her colleagues, but this isn’t possible as she has to leave work at a specific time to pick up the child from childcare or school/nursery. Performing multiple roles results in what may be termed ‘family-work spillover’. This occurs when the demands from family and home life impinge upon one’s ability to perform effectively in the workplace.

‘Work-family spillover’ may also occur due to having to juggle multiple roles, and may result when the pressures from work have an effect on one’s attitude and behaviour within the family. A study by Hoffman (1963) showed that work stress has an influence on the quality of the parent-child interaction in such a way that women who were not happy in their jobs used harsher methods of discipline and showed less affection with their children than those mothers who were happy at work. On the contrary, the work-family spillover may be a positive one. A study by Reynolds,Callender and Edwards (2003) found that many mothers saw their work identity, work skills and their feelings about work as affecting their family relationships and home life in a positive way.

Research suggests that there are a number of factors which may interact, having a buffering effect or, alternatively, intensifying the stress felt by working mothers. For instance, whilst having a supportive partner and a well-paid job may act as a buffer to the effects of stress, being a single mother whilst also having a low-paid job can exacerbate the stress felt. The decision to work or not to work outside the home whilst bringing up children is not an easy one. Many women, due to financial constraints, do not feel that they have a choice. However, regardless of which situation one is in, the modern family needs support from those closest to them, one’s place of work and the government, in terms of legislation. Such support would not only reduce the stress felt by mothers but benefit the family unit as a whole. Summarizing paragraph

There are two sides to every coin. Working mothers have advantages as well as certain problems. But I believe that it is all about balance. Working mothers have several advantages to their families. Mothers teach their children independence, curiosity, and ambition. The value of independence is taught from the mother’s own life and expecting her children to take on more responsibility themselves. Independence is often a challenge, but when successful, independence is an accomplishment. Curiosity comes from the children seeing that their mothers have value in society, also allows children to see their mother’s accomplishments beyond inside the home. Ambition comes from the gifts mothers give to their children about how to live their lives to the fullest potential. Ambition is contagious and children need a role model to encourage their dreams.

Working mother’s additional advantage is providing additional income to the family. At the same time the child may also feel neglected and they mother could undergo tremendous amounts of pressures. Work at office and home can sometimes be difficult to juggle with. That could lead to the mother to fall sick- Depression, anxiety, hypertension, extreme fatigue are few of the may illnesses that can occur.

The aim of the field study was to find out the reason of the mother to go to work, the perks and pay scale offered by the company- whether they were happy with it or not.the problems faced by working mothers, the stress levels that a mother deals with. The illnesses that may occur and also to find out whether there are any gender differences at the work place.

Hypothesis: a)I had predicted that there would be certain gender differences in a work place. b)also that a career would affect the relationship between a mother and child. The method used was a questionnaire. I distributed this questionnaire to 25 people all in different fields of work in different organizations. My main points of focus were: JOB: (Reason, Current v/s Ideal condition, Pay scale and Perks) PROBLEMS faced by working mothers

DISCRIMINATION between men and women in the workplace
STRESS levels of the working mother

I gave out 25 surveys all to working mothers from ages (34- 59). The details of the survey included their name, age. Age of child or children and nature of their job. Sr no
Age of child
Nature of job

To conduct my survey, I approached working mothers- all of different ages (34-59) , with one or more children. I have tried approaching mothers working in different fields so as to give me better and accurate results. I approached mothers who are working as teachers, doctors, desk job, executive assistants, managers, administrators, clerical staff, etc. I had to explain to them my reason of asking them to fill my survey. I told them that it was for my Industrial Psychology subject and that my topic was on Working Mothers. I made sure that the survey questions were easily understandable, concise and to the point. Inorder to make things easier I gave multiple choice questions.

My survey consisted of 17 questions and it would take not more than 5-7 minutes to answer. I did not need to take any prior appointments with the mothers who filled my survey as most of them were my friends mothers and some of them were teachers from college itself. It was very kind of all the mothers to have filled my survey so patiently. Some mothers did not want to reveal their age and names. I have abided by that request and have not mentioned their names at all. This project went rather smoothly because everyone was very quick in giving back my surveys. After getting my surveys back, I then had to analyse and calculate the results. Later on in my project you will see that I have displayed the results with the help of graphical representation in the form of bar graphs and pie charts. Below is a sample of the questionnaire that I had sent out. Name: ___________________________ Your Age: ____ Age of your child/children:_____________ Nature of job:_____________________ This survey is for educational purposes only. Strict confidentiality will be maintained and no details will be revealed. Please assess yourself honestly.

1. I work
o Part time (32 hours a week or less)
o Full time (32 hours or more per week)
o Other (please specify): ___________________________________ 2. Why do you work?
o My family needs my income
o I enjoy it
o To keep a foot in the door in my career
o I don’t think i would be fulfilled as a stay- at home- parent 3. What would be ideal for you?
o Stay at home
o Work part time
o Work full time
4. Do you feel that your child/children are missing out on anything because of your work? o Yes
o No
o Maybe
5. Do you think that your relationship with your children would be any different if you stayed at home? o Yes
o No
o Maybe
6. What is the hardest part about being a working parent?
o Lack of time with my kids
o Lack of time with my partner
o Lack of time to myself
o N/A (It’s not hard)
o Other (please specify):__________________________________
7. My workplace offers
o Maternity leave
o Babies at work
o On site child care
o Other perks (please specify):______________________________ 8. Are you happy with the pay scale at work?
o Yes
o No
9. Do you feel that you are treated equally to your male co-workers? o Yes
o No
o Maybe

10. Do you feel left out of the loop at work because you are a female? o Yes
o No
11. Do you feel that you are given a fair share of opportunities? o Yes
o No
12. Have you had to try very hard to match up to your boss’s or seniors expectations because you are a female ? o Yes
o No
o Maybe
13. Do you feel that you get more advantages than your male co workers? o Yes
o No
14. If you could pick one thing that would make your life as a working parent better, which would it be? o Flexible schedule
o More supportive boss/co-workers
o More paid time off
o More help with chores/kids
o Better childcare
o N/A (I am very satisfied)
o Other (please specify):________________________________
15. Since being a working parent, have you experienced any of these health problems? (check all that apply) o Depression
o Anxiety
o Unhealthy weight gain or loss
o Extreme fatigue
o Insomnia
o Migranes
o I get sick all the time
o N/A
o Others (please specify):________________________________
16. In general, would you say your work is?
o Stressful
o Not stressful
17. How would you rate your overall stress level in a typical week? (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very little stress, 5 being extreme stress.) o 1(very little)
o 2
o 3
o 4
o 5(extreme)

The results of the survey that I conducted were as follows- I have used the method of graphical representation by using bar graphs and pie charts inorder to make the analysis easier to understand. My project is mainly focused on four aspects.

A) Do you feel that you are treated equally to your male co-workers?
B) Do you feel left out of the loop because you are a female?
C) Do you feel that you are given a fair share of opportunities?
D) Have you had to try really hard to match up to your boss’s expectations because you are a female?
E) Do you feel that you get more advantages than your male co-workers?

The above statistics shows the problems, stress levels, discrimination and health problems faced by working mothers. Contrary to what has been said about gender differences prevailing within a workplace, it is not so. My survey proves my hypothesis of there being gender differences in a workplace wrong, the results show that there are infact barely any discrimination in ur workplace based on your gender. When asked whether women feel that they have been treated equally to their male co workers- 92% said YES, 4% said NO AND 4% said MAYBE. (question 9,10,11,12,13) all talk about gender differences The project also helps us understand the necessary reasons as to why women go to work. Based on my survey the results said that 56% work because they enjoy it, 12% work because their family needs their income, 4% work inorder to keep a foot in the door in their career and 28% work because they would not be fulfilled as stay-at – home mothers. ( question2)

Working mothers undergo severe levels of stress in a week because they not only have to manage their office work but also have to tend to the needs of their family. They have to cook, clean etc. Working mothers are also prone to several health problems due to their tiring schedule. ( question 15). 40% mothers are able to deal with the stress of balancing worklife and family life. Other 60% fall sick- depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia are the most common illnesses. Inorder to make the lives of working mothers better, workplaces must offer additional family help, better child care, more paid leaves and flexible schedules. (question 14) shows us what would make the lives of working mothers better. 40% said flexible schedules, 32% were very satisfied, 12% said more paid time off and 4% said better childcare. Most of the mothers are very happy with the payscale offered at work. 76% were very satisfied and 16% said they would prefer a higher salary.(question 8)

Mothers today feel that their children are missing out on something due to their work (28%). Other 56% said that their child/children are not affected by their work.(question 4,5) Mothers feel that due ro their work, they do not get enough time to spend with- kids(32%), partner (8%), self(28%) and 32% were satisfied. Working mothers hold two full-time positions – being mom and also one of being a working person. She must be able to juggle between the job and family inorder to ensure all round happiness and peace in her life. Inorder to overcome this constant struggle of juggling between family and work , working mothers must let certain things go. Everything need not be perfect. A working mother must learn to prioritise her work and family life. A good test is to ask whether the question you’re wrestling with will matter in 20 years.

Generally speaking, the time you spend with family or on genuinely career-building projects will pass muster — but the extra three emails you can answer at 11 p.m. will fail. While I was conducting the surveys, I began chatting with a few mothers. They told me that they leave for work after they send their children to school and try getting back before their child comes home. This ensures that they can spend quality time with their children and everyone else at home. Being a working mother is an exhausting task. But some mothers carry out both sides of the roles effortlessly. Its all about striking the right balance.

In my project my main hypothesis was that
a) There are gender differences prevailing in the work environment. My survey proved this hypothesis wrong. b) Working mothers feel that their children are missing out on something due to their working life. This is also not true. Mothers feel that their relationship with their children is not affected by their career.

In conclusion, I would like to say that. Today’s working woman tries to fill many roles simultaneously: worker, wife or mother, and individual. These different roles create demands which are in violent conflict with each other: leaving the children for a few days to go on a necessary business trip, missing days from work to care for a sick child, needing to vacation with only the spouse.

It is the duty of the working mother to be able to know whst is important and what is not. She must learn to master the art of balancing inorder to lead a fulfilling and happy life. If she wants to have it all, she most certainly can.



Do not bring office work home
When at home, give undivided attention to your family
Let go of what is not important
Prioritize your life events
Get enough sleep for yourself
Plan family vacations
Most importantlysome time with yourself

Ways to improve the project:
Inorder to improve my project I could have given my surveys out to more mothers. I should have tried finding mothers with opposing views and ideas I should have not asked them to mention their names and age because I think
that it made them slightly uncomfortable and it may have affected their opinions.

I conducted an interview on Urvi Shah, she is an interior deigner aged 34 and is a mother of two boys aged 9 and 11

1) How do you find working?
I work because I enjoy it, it keeps me occupied when the kids are in school and also because it is my passion

2) Are your working hours flexible?
Yes, my working hours are very flexible only when I do not have to go on site. If im doing a particular project then I have no specific work time because then everything goes hay wire, but until im in office I make it a point to be home before my children get home.

3) Do you think you give enough importance to your family life? My family life comes first. That is my priority.work is secondary.

4) How do u cope up with the stress?
Usually, when I get very stressed- I go for a walk or I listen to music. That usually de stresses me, I need quality time to myself.

5) Does your husband support you?
Yes, my husband is very supportive. He backs me up in every decision. Even when im working late he takes the responsibility of the children on his head and manages everything

6) What advice would you give to all the working mothers like yourself? Umm, I would like to tell them that they should take things slowly and easily. Do not stress on the details because that will jus complicate life more. Spend enough time with your family and partner.

Reshma a mother of two girls aged 15 and 17, works at HDFC bank in administration. Her job timings are from 9-5 through the week. She gets a substantial pay of rs. 15,000. She works because her family could use the extra income. Reshma makes sure that she leaves home after she has sent her children to school and after her husband leaves for work. She wakes up everyday at 7am to make lunch, pack tiffins and get her children ready for school. Reshma is back home before her children get home. she makes sure that she does not carry any workload from her office home, and also makes sure that she plays an active part in her childrens lives- she volunteers for parent – teacher activities and also helps them in their homework and during exams. She spends enough time with her partner as well. Reshma Is leading a very fulfilling life.

DNA article – women choose career over family 13th may 2012 Motherhood, among young urban working women, seems to have lost its charm. In a country where social norms dictate that women prioritise family over everything else, a new survey carried out by the Associated Chamber of Commerce in India (ASSOCHAM) finds that more than 50% of married urban women within the age of 24-30 have shelved their plans to have kids in favour of pursuing their higher studies or career goals. The survey, conducted on 1,200 married working women in almost all major Indian centres, had 650 respondents saying that they had put their child-bearing plans on hold because they were busy with their careers.

Mumbai among all Indian cities had the highest rate of respondents who subscribed to this view. 100 out of the 150 working women interviewed in Mumbai said they are deliberately avoiding starting a family and most of these have taken their families into confidence regarding their decision. Of these, about 75 said they are sticking to their decisions because of their careers, while about 15 said they are too concerned about their physical appearance to have a baby and finally 10 women said they are too young to have a baby. Not everybody is supportive of this trend. Deepa Mishra, a stay-at-home mother thinks that the survey results are indicative of selfishness on the part of working women. “The survey results are shocking. If working women avoid having children, then what will happen to our future generation? This selfish mentality is completely wrong. Having a child gives you a sense of contentment like nothing else,” she said. Ramya Rao, a married home maker of 30 thinks that both child rearing and career can be balanced if there is a support system around.

“How comfortable one feels with motherhood depends on whether or not the mother has help from her parents or in-laws. If she has someone to help her raise the child, she should go ahead and have a baby without worrying about her career.” Working women, however, have a different point of view. Jayanthi Raman, an executive with Power Gas, gave up working after the age of 30, when she had her second child. “Having a child requires a woman to give her undivided attention to the baby. It is necessary for a mother to be with the child during its formative years instead of depending upon creches. So, if a woman’s career is flourishing she would obviously want to work for some more years before deciding to start a family. The survey just brought the truth to light.” Thirty-one year Vidya Kumar believes that couples have to take their financial status into consideration while planning for a child. “A child is a major financial responsibility and one cannot opt for motherhood without having one’s finances sorted. Starting a family shouldn’t be priority for couples who haven’t got that financial security.”

According to Dr Kalpana Someshwar, a city gynaecologist, working women also have to take the medical implications of a late pregnancy into account before opting for it. “Late motherhood leads to several complications; the child born to a woman in her late thirties is at a risk of developing genetic defects like Down’s syndrome. Also, conceiving a child after a certain age becomes difficult for women since their fertility decreases by 20% after the age of forty. Older women are also susceptible to conditions like gestational diabetes. But late pregnancy can be dealt with effectively if the woman is mentally prepared and is backed by her family. A pregnant woman in her late thirties and early forties has less mood swings and is more mature in handling child birth,” she said.

Analysis: in the above article both sides of the story is shown. A woman who is highly career oriented and a woman who gave up working for her family. I feel that women must learn to balance out everything in life. they must work as well as be able to manage their family. Women should not put off having babies for later because age is very essential. Everything has its certain time.

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