Should I stay or should I go? Implications of maternity leave choice for perceptions of working mothers

Thekla Morgenroth, Madeline Heilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Working mothers often find themselves in a difficult situation when trying to balance work and family responsibilities and to manage expectations about their work and parental effectiveness. Family-friendly policies such as maternity leave have been introduced to address this issue. But how are women who then make the decision to go or not go on maternity leave evaluated? We presented 296 employed participants with information about a woman who made the decision to take maternity leave or not, or about a control target for whom this decision was not relevant, and asked them to evaluate her both in the work and the family domain. We found that both decisions had negative consequences, albeit in different domains. While the woman taking maternity leave was evaluated more negatively in the work domain, the woman deciding against maternity leave was evaluated more negatively in the family domain. These evaluations were mediated by perceptions of work/family commitment priorities. We conclude that while it is important to introduce policies that enable parents to reconcile family and work demands, decisions about whether to take advantage of these policies can have unintended consequences – consequences that can complicate women's efforts to balance work and childcare responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-56
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume72
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

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Parental Leave
maternity leave
Mothers
Family Planning Policy
responsibility
family work
parents
commitment
Parents
evaluation

Keywords

  • Family commitment
  • Family leave
  • Job commitment
  • Maternity leave
  • Parental leave
  • Working mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Should I stay or should I go? Implications of maternity leave choice for perceptions of working mothers. / Morgenroth, Thekla; Heilman, Madeline.

In: Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 72, 01.09.2017, p. 53-56.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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