Moms@Work: The Working Mother Report | Working Mother

Moms@Work: The Working Mother Report

On the 30th anniversary of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies initiative, employed moms are no longer a novelty—70% of women with kids under 18 have jobs. How do these moms feel about their careers, families and selves? With sponsorship from Morgan Stanley, we conducted a national study to find out.

Click here to download a PDF of Moms@Work.

WHO WE SURVEYED

1,508 employed mothers answered our survey. The majority are married or partnered, working full-time, and have children under age 18 at home.

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WHAT THEY DO...

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DUAL ROLES

Our respondents are caregivers and providers. More than half earn the same amount as or more than their partner. More than a third are breadwinning moms.

OPTIMISTIC... BUT UNDER PRESSURE

Women report more satisfaction in work and life than they did two years ago. In particular, more women feel secure in their jobs and optimistic about their career prospects.

Yet the data also shows that it’s still difficult to balance work and child-rearing. More than three quarters of families experience some work life conflict.

CAREER: PICK UP THE PACE!

Women want to advance. But only about half of all respondents are satisfied with their opportunities for promotion, which is the lowest satisfaction result we clocked in the survey. About 20 percent say they are dissatisfied.

FLEX PROPELS CAREERS

Executives, breadwinners and those who describe themselves as “career oriented” are among the most optimistic about their future prospects.

Executives, managers and other professionals are the careers most likely to come with flexibility. Millennials, the group with the youngest kids, features moms most likely to use flex.

Regardless of their field, title or earnings, women who lack flexibility are the least optimistic about their career prospects in our data set.

CAREER PATHS: TOPLINE VERSUS FRONTLINE

Moms who earn less than $50,000 per year report significantly less satisfaction with their careers than higher earners. These lower earners are less likely to feel their opinions count at work, to believe they have opportunities to develop their skills, or to say they get support from coworkers.

THE WORKDAY

Two things make the workday work: flexibility and a supportive manager. Women who have these are more likely to report that their contributions are valued and their prospects good. In contrast, moms who don’t have a family-friendly manager are dissatisfied—40% are considering leaving their employer within 12 months (and 28% are unsure whether they will stay or not).

IN FACT...

Flexibility outranks money in terms of what women say is important to them in choosing a job. It is second only to job security and is the top priority for women who work part-time. Seventy-five percent say that flexibility helps them meet work goals and attend to family needs.

RESULTS ORIENTED

Moms today work all variety of hours, schedules and locations, but one message is clear: Judge me on my results, not by how long I’m at my desk.

HOW WOMEN FLEX TODAY

Compared to 2013, slightly fewer moms are working from home.

Though they are more likely to be in the office, working moms are not tied to a rote schedule. More women are using flexibility than two years ago—8 in 10 respondents say they adjust their hours or work location to attend to family needs. Millennial moms are the most likely to be using flex 5 days per week.

FAMILY TIME

HOME LIFE: STILL A SECOND SHIFT?

By and large, working moms believe their spouses/partners make valuable contributions to family finances. But how about housework and child care? That’s where moms are less likely to say that their spouse/partner carries a “fair share.” And about a third say it would be difficult to manage housework without additional help.

THE JUGGLE STRUGGLE: WHAT SIGNALS "BALANCE" TO WORKING MOMS

A parent home with children after school (69% agree it’s preferable)

Being home at night (70% would reject a job if it required frequent overnight travel)

Fewer hours at work (70% would choose to work part-time if they could still have a meaningful and productive career)

Being a role model (72% agreed that working outside the home sets a positive example)

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Moms are happy with their relationships with their children and about how their kids are faring. Eighty-one percent are optimistic about their children's futures.

SELF-CARE: LAST ON LIST?

Moms believe they are meeting kids’ needs, but their own needs are a different story. Less than half (47%) say they have enough time to take care of their own health and well-being.

ME TIME: IT'S LACKING

Me time. One quarter of working moms surveyed are dissatisfied with the amount of time they have—one of the highest levels of dissatisfaction measured in this survey.

Time with partner. The number of women satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their partner dropped two percentage points since our 2013 survey.* Though not a huge drop, it’s worth noting that it’s one of few decreases—satisfaction with home life increased on nearly all other measures.

Affordable child care. Only half believe their child care is reasonably priced—which may limit the amount of time working parents have for exercise, hobbies, and other pursuits.

INSIGHTS

This survey studied four areas of working mothers’ lives: career, workday, family and self.

In general, working moms are more satisfied with their lives at home and work than they were two years ago.

In order to meet work goals and family needs, working moms rely on flexibility and the support of their direct manager.

The majority of women who do not consider their manager supportive are considering a job change.

Women who do not have flexibility are the least optimistic group in our survey about their career prospects, regardless of earnings, title, or occupation.

With only half of respondents satisfied with their opportunities to advance, employers need to do a better job of developing career paths. Past WMRI research has shown that having a “career orientation” correlates positively with engagement on the job. In fact, women in this survey who describe themselves as “career oriented” are more satisfied in every area of home and work life compared to women working just to collect a paycheck.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

A questionnaire was developed by the Working Mother Research Institute and fielded via a series of email blasts sent out by Survey Sampling International between April 20, 2015, and April 23, 2015, to its opt-in database of employed (full- or part-time) women, aged 18 to 64, with at least one child under the age of 18 living in the household.

Bonnier Custom Insights (a division of Bonnier Corporation) received and tabulated the responses, which were then analyzed by Maria S. Ferris Consulting LLC. All tabulations, percentages and other calculations published in the accompanying report were compiled in accordance with established research standards. The final results are documented in this report, which was developed by the Working Mother Research Institute.

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR

Dear Friends, I’m proud to present the results of our new Working Mother Research Institute study, Moms@Work: The Working Mother Report.

As the presidential campaign heats up, we wanted to find out how working mothers perceive their home and work lives—to direct the national conversation back to the family-friendly issues still in need of solving.

What we found is that while working mothers are more optimistic than when we last surveyed them in 2013, the juggle remains a struggle. So, too, the answer remains flexibility and a supportive manager. Working mothers who report a lack of flexibility at work are more apt to report considering a job change in the near future.

Women want opportunities to advance, but roughly half of the women surveyed are not satisfied with their opportunities for promotion, which is the lowest satisfaction result we clocked in the survey. Indeed, about 20 percent say they are plainly dissatisfied.

I thank Morgan Stanley for its sponsorship of this important white paper, and I invite you to explore in this report the impact that the intersection of work life has on working mothers, their careers and their families—and to visit workingmother.com/wmri to download other important Working Mother Research Institute studies.

All the Best,

Jennifer Owens Director Working Mother Research Institute

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