October 6 2009
Last week I wrote about a WaPo report on the new census figures about stay-at-home moms. Coincidentally the Pew Research Center released "The Harried Life of the Working Mother" on the same day.
It appears that "a solid majority of Americans (75%)" support the idea that women can enjoy opportunities outside of their traditional role in the home. But despite this support, the report finds that many women "remain conflicted about the competing roles they play at work and at home."
Working mothers in particular are ambivalent about whether full-time work is the best thing for them or their children; they feel the tug of family much more acutely than do working fathers. As a result, most working mothers find themselves in a situation that they say is less than ideal.
In a separate survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trend Project over the summer, a strong majority of working mothers (62%) said they would prefer to work part time.
The WaPo story presented staying at home as a last resort decision made largely by uneducated, low-income women. The article worked to "debunk the myth" that well-educated women have chosen to "opt-out" of the workforce to raise their children. However, the census only looks at individuals who have not worked in the past year and clearly overlooks a large number of women who have chosen to stay-at-home and work part-time.
The fact is, more and more businesses have developed flexible work arrangements that make it possible for men and women to negotiate the kind of work-life balance we all need.
Hopefully next time the Washington Post will dig a little deeper.