According to a July 2019 FlexJobs survey of more than 2,000 women with children 18 and younger living at home, 31% of women who took a break in their career after having kids wanted to keep working, but reported that their job was too inflexible to remain in the workforce.
Forty-two percent said it was either extremely difficult or difficult to restart their career after taking a break. The labor force participation rate for all women with children under age 18 was 71.5% in 2018, up slightly from the prior year.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that mothers with young children are less likely to be in the labor force than those with older children, and flexible work options play a role.
Below are the full details from this FlexJobs survey of mothers and work, which covered topics like reentering the workforce, flexible work options, career progression, and more.
For moms, dads, employers, and the workforce at large, these findings offer insights into what it’s really like to juggle parenting and career, and how flexible work options (or the lack thereof) impact decision-making.
Returning to work after a break is common yet difficult.
- 31% of women with children 18 and under who took a break in their career after having kids wanted to keep working, but their job was too inflexible to stay in the workforce.
- 70% who off-ramped their careers after having kids said it was difficult to reenter the workforce.
- 71% have left or considered leaving a job because it lacked flexibility.
- 40% are concerned that having flexible work arrangements will hurt their career progression.
More than half of moms tried to negotiate flexible work options with their employers.
- Work-life balance (82%), flexible work options (78%), and work schedule (77%) were ranked ahead of salary (76%) as the top factors moms use to evaluate potential job prospects.
- Over half (56%) have tried to negotiate flexible work arrangements with their employers, but only 32% have been successful.
- Just 13% are extremely confident in their ability to negotiate a flexible work arrangement.
- 86% said having kids living at home has affected their interest in a flexible job.
Employers also see benefits when they offer flexible work options to parents and all workers.
- 31% of women with children 18 and under would consider taking a pay cut in exchange for the option to telecommute as much as they wanted.
- 85% would be more loyal to their employers if they had a flexible work arrangement, compared to 80% of general workers who say the same thing.
- 64% think they are more productive working from home than in a traditional workplace.
- Nearly half (48%) have felt discriminated against in the workplace because of their gender.
Mothers are confident in their dual parent/employee roles.
- The majority report “needing” to work, but 73%—more than two out of three parents—also report “wanting” to work.
- 84% are entirely sure that they can simultaneously be both great employees and great mothers.
- 91% also indicated that flexible work arrangements would increase their volunteerism at their children’s schools or organized activities.
Additional Survey Findings
The mothers who responded to FlexJobs’ survey were highly educated, with 70% having a bachelor’s degree and 28% having a graduate degree.
Earlier, FlexJobs released the full results of its 2019 annual flexible and remote work survey with more than 7,000 professionals weighing in on work and life.
To help moms (and anyone who’s taken a career break) return to work through remote and flexible work, FlexJobs has created a great resource! “A Mom’s Guide for Returning to Work” is a comprehensive downloadable guide that walks readers through all the steps of returning to work.
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