Women Working Longer into Pregnancies and Returning to Work Faster

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

From the Feminist Weekly News:

Women are working later into their pregnancies and taking shorter maternity leaves, according to a report by the US Census Bureau Monday. The report (see PDF) analyzed data on maternity leave and employment patterns of pregnant women since the 1960s. It found that 67.2 percent of women in 2000 worked during their pregnancies, as compared to 44.4 percent in 1961. Additionally, fewer women quit their jobs after giving birth than in the 1960s.

The study finds many of the changes are due to changes in age and higher education levels of women having children. Of the women who worked during pregnancy, 80 percent were over the age of 30 and 83.5 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. The study attributes the increase in pregnant working women to families needing to have two incomes and better child care systems. However, the study finds that 42.5 percent of women still have to go on unpaid leave after giving birth, in comparison with the 34 percent who go on paid leave.

This entry was posted in Women and Economics. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Women Working Longer into Pregnancies and Returning to Work Faster

  1. jve2102 says:

    This is so interesting. I worked as an attorney in BigLaw and took 5 months paid leave (combination of maternity leave, family care leave and vacation). However, I found that the hardest thing was not returning to work but returning to the gruelling hours that are required to be taken seriously. I wonder if it is really so important to get paid leave at all (beyond what’s needed to recover from the actual birth) and whether we should have instead a long period of part time work rights. I mean real part time not law firm part time 42 hours a week.

    Interestingly I understand that in Sweden relatively early return and years of part time are the norm. With 18 months or so paid maternity leave many women string this out until the child starts school by using it to dilute rather than replace work. I think that should be better for the firms as well as for the mothers. Personally after a couple of months with a screaming newborn I would have loved to go back to work but only if I could still do what was needed (breastfeed, do bedtime etc).

    I suspect Americans would claim that 18 months paid leave would just be used as an excuse to get out of touch and loaf on the money (that’s the implication at least by the male partners who have never tried to loaf with a newborn). Yet in fact it might encourage women to return sooner at a part time rate if that part time rules are enforced to prevent working full time for part time pay.

    While paid maternity leave is a worthy goal in both Australia and the US (the last industrialized countries not to have it) I’m not sure its the most important goal. I think shutting a woman out of the workplace and locking her up with a baby for months and then expecting her to return ready to hit the ground running is an incredibly naive and cruel model.

    But maybe that’s just me. My son was incredibly hard that first year so I wasn’t sure which was worse for us – being confined together at home full time or being separated stressfully full time. I would have loved a middle path but law firms just don’t do that. At least not well.