Dad of Divas' Reviews: What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report

American families are undergoing a sea change as we rethink who works, who stays home to care for the kids and why we work. This reexamination of how we live comes at a time when women make up more than half of the people on American payrolls for the first time in our history, with moms the primary breadwinner in almost 40 percent of all families.
To understand how working moms see their shifting roles and how others see them, Working Mother magazine surveyed more than 4,600 people across the country, including working moms, stay-at-home moms, working dads and singles in the workplace. Among our findings: whether making $20,000 or $200,000, moms who view their jobs as a career—rather than just a paycheck—are more satisfied and feel more positive at work and at home. “What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report” offers surprising insights into the perceptions of both sexes. 
“I meet women all the time who think of their jobs as careers, and it doesn’t matter if they’re answering phones in a call center or running a company,” said Carol Evans, President, Working Mother Media. “This research reveals that women who embrace the long-term commitment that a career implies feel more satisfied and positive about every marker that we measured, including being ‘in balance.’ These findings have huge implications for women and the companies who rely on them.”
Among our top findings:
  • Moms who view their work as a career are happier in all aspects the survey measured—with their marriage, kids, friendships, salary, respect they command and choice to work—than women who work primarily for a paycheck;
  • Male managers are big supporters of working moms in the workplace;
  • Though moms value flex as a key benefit, men are more likely than women to have jobs that allow for flexibility;
  • Both men and women feel a deep ambivalence when wives out-earn their husbands.
What contributes to a woman labeling her work as a career versus a paycheck? It’s not her salary. According to The Working Mother Report, women feel they have a career when they:
  • Have opportunities to develop skills and advance;
  • Feel supported and respected;
  • Believe their work fulfills a higher purpose than simply making money.
“The most exciting aspect of The Working Mother Report is how actionable this is,” Evans said. “Women can examine their attitudes and shift toward careerist thinking. Companies can support women in viewing their jobs as careers with training and advancement programs.”
The Working Mother Report coincides with the 25th anniversary of Working Mother 100 Best Companies. It was sponsored by three of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies—Ernst & Young, IBM and Procter & Gamble.
The Importance of a “Career”
Women who identify themselves as having a career are more likely than those who self-identify as working primarily for a paycheck to say that:
  • Their life is ‘in balance’; they are healthy and fulfilled;
  • They are supported in work responsibilities and respected at home;
  • Their spouses contribute more to caring for children and to at-home tasks;
  • Their work fulfills a higher or more meaningful purpose than ‘just making money.’
How Male Managers View Working Moms
The Working Mother Report reveals that male managers view working mothers highly favorably, seeing them in a better light than do working fathers and men without children. Male managers say that working moms are likely to:
  • Take on additional work;
  • Be committed to career advancement;
  • Travel for work;
  • Take stretch assignments;
  • Relocate.
“Male managers—regardless of whether they have kids themselves—are strong allies of working moms. They see how dedicated these women are to their careers,” said Suzanne Riss, Editor in Chief, Working Mother magazine. “Managers praise working moms for the quality of their work, their interest in advancing, and their willingness to take on extra work.”
Flexibility: Not Just for Working Moms Anymore
The moms surveyed said that a flexible schedule is trumped only by stability and security when they look for a new job. Yet The Working Mother Report revealed that men are more likely to have jobs that allow for flexibility, more likely to use flex without fear of retribution, and that they feel they can take time off when necessary.
Among those whose work does allow for flexibility, there is a large gap in the percentage of women (58%) and men (74%) who say flexibility has had a positive impact on their career advancement.  Working mothers are more likely than working fathers to say:
  • Part-time work is a viable option at their company (65% vs. 58% for fathers);
  • They would work part time if they could still have a meaningful career (70% vs. 63% for fathers);
  • Flexibility increases their commitment or loyalty to their organization (77% vs. 73% for fathers).
Mars vs. Venus
Women who earn more than their husbands are more likely to expect men to contribute to cooking, cleaning and caring for the kids:
  • Women surveyed were significantly more likely than men to say that domestic chores should be split down the middle (92%). But fewer than half say their spouses do their fair share. Men, in contrast, reported that they feel they are doing their fair share (68%).
The Working Mother Report revealed a deep ambivalence among both men and women about women earning more.
  • When asked in theory about the idea of their spouse out-earning them, 73% of women and 59% of men said they were comfortable with the idea of their partner earning more.
  • When women actually are the breadwinners, the comfort level drops for men from 59% to 42%.
The iPad Special Digital Edition: Working Mother 100 Best Companies 25th Anniversary, including What Moms Think: The Working Mother Report findings, will be available for free download from the iTunes store. Northern Trust sponsored this special edition.
Walker Communications conducted this study using email blasts sent out by Survey Sampling International between June 7 and June 14, 2010 to their opt-in database.  A total of 4,606 individuals across America submitted an online questionnaire developed by Working Mother Media and Ernst & Young with input from IBM and Proctor & Gamble.
All tabulations, percentages and other calculations published in the accompanying report were compiled in accordance with established research standards.
About Working Mother Media
Working Mother magazine reaches 2 million women and is the only national magazine for moms who work outside the home; offers daily solutions for home and career. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Working Mother’s signature research initiative, Working Mother 100 Best Companies, the most important benchmark for work-life practices in America. Working Mother Media, a division of Bonnier Corp. (, includes the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE,, Diversity Best Practices ( Working Mother Media’s mission is to serve as a champion of culture change.
About the Sponsors
Ernst & Young:  With 75% of its employees working out of client offices, this professional services firm and 2010 Working Mother Top 10 Winner offers scheduling freedom to those who pursue it. For parents, telecommuting and flextime are de rigueur, and at least 11% of workers use a formal flex arrangement. Full-time salaried employees receive at least three paid weeks of vacation and three paid personal days; after a birth, women receive 22 job-guaranteed weeks off, with full pay for 14 weeks. Women now make up 38% of new partner promotions.
IBM:  This information technology company has been on the 100 Best list all 25 years and was a Top 10 Winner in 2010.  Offering real help to employees whose children have mental, physical or developmental issues, IBM’s Special Care for Children program covers medical testing and therapies not reimbursed by insurance, plus academic remediation, up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. Its new Exceptional Caregiving website fosters support groups among parents and serves as a resource on education, health care and financial strategies. Employees can manage stress by following wellness action plans that boost their energy, improve their diets and get them into shape. Workers receive $150 for completing them.
Procter & Gamble: This consumer products company offers employees who adopt up to $5,000 in aid and gives them as much as a year of job-guaranteed time off. When they're ready to return to work, they may do so on a temporarily reduced schedule or (if their job permits) opt to work from home. At least 75% of employees adjusted their hours and telecommuted at some point in 2009, while 10% started working part time. Anyone who puts in at least 20 hours of work per week earns health insurance; single moms with one child pay an “employee plus one” rate that costs less than family coverage. Kids ages 6 weeks to 5 years enjoy three on-site child-care centers in Albany, GA, and Cincinnati, OH

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