More women are working harder and longer than ever before, but a significant number of new moms feel like they're overlooked for promotions and special projects upon returning to work, they reported in a new study. Many of them feel like having a baby impacts their careers, according to a PwC study. And their concerns are not unfounded. A wealth of studies suggest that when women bear children, they are indeed held back.
PwC surveyed more than 3,600 professional women aged 28 to 40 years old to explore their career development experiences and aspirations. The survey polled respondents from employers across 27 industry sectors and from more than 60 countries worldwide. While 82 percent of the women surveyed said they felt confident about their ability to fulfill their career aspirations and 73 percent said they're indeed actively seeking career advancement opportunities, according to Business Review, 42 percent admitted to feeling nervous about the impact starting a family could have on their careers. The most significant finding, however, was perhaps that 48 percent of new mothers felt overlooked for promotions and special projects upon their return to work, which would justify why so many women are nervous to have kids.
The findings from the study, titled "Time to Talk: What Has to Change for Women at Work," aren't all that surprising. We already know that more women are starting families compared to 10 years ago, but they're waiting longer to have babies, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Data from the Pew Research Center. The analysis found that, at the end of their childbearing years, the share of U.S. women who have ever given birth was higher in 2016 than it was a decade prior. But the research shows that they're certainly holding off a bit longer largely due to career opportunities.
And previous research from a Healthline State of Fertility Report from 2017 found that more than half of millennial women and men are delaying parenthood for career security and financial reasons. In fact, not only are more women working than ever before, but more women are working past the age of retirement than ever before, too, according to TIME.
What is surprising, however, is that women don't necessarily trust what their employers are feeding them about career advancement and promotion opportunities, according to Business Review. While CEOs evidently recognize how crucial it is to be transparent about their diversity and inclusion programs to build trust, their messages are too often falling short. That's why 58 percent of women in the study identified greater transparency as the critical step employers can take — this means open conversations between employers and employees about expectations and paths to success.
"According to this global survey, women are confident, ambitious and actively pursuing their career goals and this is to be welcomed," said Ionut Simion, Country Managing Partner, PwC Romania, according to Business Review. But leaders need to focus on creating environments in which both women and men can have attractive career opportunities — even after they bear children.
New findings from Welch's recently summed up just how many hours working moms work per week — and it's a lot. The study of 2,000 American mothers with children ages 5 to 12 found that the average working mom clocks in a 98-hour work week, with her day typically starting at 6:23 a.m. and ending around 8:31 p.m. That's a 14-hour workday when you factor in work duties and family responsibilities, according to Working Mother.
But despite how hard they work, working mothers are too-often subjected to discrimination, known as the "motherhood penalty." In fact, Cornell researchers conducted a study in which they sent fake résumés to hundreds of employers, and they found that mothers were half as likely to be called back by prospective employers. And another more recent study found that, while men’s salaries increased more than six percent when they had children, women’s decreased four percent for each child they had.
So it's no surprise that women are worried about how much having children could impact their careers — research suggests that they'll be working more and potentially earning less, and employers aren't being super transparent about their futures.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.