Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stop the Presses- Employed Moms Want to Work Fewer Hours!

The April issue of Monthly Labor Review has an article by Penn State economist Lonnie Goldman that found that twice as many women as men would like to cut back on the number of hours spent on the job. Moms, particularly those with children under the age of 3, were especially likely to desire a reduced workload and were willing to take a paycut in order to achieve it.

Ms. Goldman notes that other workers surveyed felt underemployed and asked the excellent question: "If you have so many people hungry for hours and more income, how rational is it to have a segment of your workforce that wants to get rid of some hours and is willing to sacrifice income to do so?”

The dearth of good part-time positions is a major problem for parents and also those caring for an elderly or disabled family member. Because it's so incredibly difficult to juggle career and family obligations while working full-time, people often feel forced to choose one or the other. The result is widespread dissatisfaction among both full-time employees and full-time homemakers. The former frequently feel overly stressed and risk "burnout". The latter often miss the intellectual stimulation and adult social interaction of the workplace. Our economy also suffers when talented women (and a few men) who would like to participate in the workforce do not because of the lack of part-time opportunities.

Certainly there are women out there who are perfectly content with either full-time employment or full-time homemaking. Both are valid choices if that's what she feels is best for her own individual circumstances. Every woman ought to have the opportunity to pursue whatever level of employment she desires without being made to feel guilty about it.

Four decades after so-called "women's liberation", why has there been so little progress in creating family-friendly part-time jobs?

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