Two in five mothers say having kids was bad for their career

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
March 06, 2020, 7:40 PM UTC

Women and men still experience the impact of parenthood on their careers differently, with far fewer men saying it has held them back

As International Women’s Day approaches, YouGov data shows that women still largely shoulder the career sacrifices of parenthood.

While nearly two in five mothers (38%) say having kids has harmed their career, this only applies to one in seven fathers (14%). Women are also more likely to say that the impact of parenthood on their work has been “very negative” at 9%, whereas only 2% of men with children report a similar experience.

In contrast, a higher number of men think having children benefitted their career, with over a third of fathers saying they’ve had a positive impact. Only 16% of mothers agree.

Nearly half of men with kids (47%) say they’ve had no impact on their work-life, compared with 39% of women.

Declined opportunities and reduced performance – how children impact women and men’s careers differently

Parents who say having children has been negative for their career most commonly mention having to work reduced hours, which affects slightly more mothers (60%) than fathers (51%). 

The second most common impact – having to decline job offers – applies to a similar number of men (55%) and women (52%) who say their careers have been hindered by parenthood.

But mothers whose careers have suffered are more likely to cite reasons such as giving up work temporarily or permanently (51%, compared with 13% of fathers whose careers have taken a knock), having fewer progression opportunities (41% vs 19%) and spending time away on parental leave (31% vs 19%).

All of these factors tend to lead to stagnating or lower pay. Indeed, a quarter of women who believe having kids was bad for their career say they’ve had fewer opportunities to get a pay rise compared with 12% of fathers. 

When it comes to impacts that affect men more, fathers who have their careers set back by parenthood are twice as likely as mothers in the same situation (52% vs 26%) to say their work performance has suffered from increased demands at home.

It’s not surprising that this figure is higher for men since women are more likely to work reduced hours. But even among full-time employees, who believe kids have hindered their career, fathers are more likely than mothers to say demands at home have reduced their performance at 57% compared with 32%. Part of the reason for this could be that women are already used to tackling a bigger load of the household chores.

 

Many employers could do more to accommodate parents

While employers generally are starting to pay more attention to work-life balance, they still have some way to go. A fifth of all parents in work who have kids aged 18 or younger say their workplace does not accommodate their family needs well. This figure is similar for mothers (22%) and fathers (19%). 

Among parents who say having children has held back their career, about three in ten have experienced a lack of consideration from their employer or colleagues. While this applies equally to both genders, facing outright discrimination is more common among women (20%) than men (12%) in this group.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here