Two into one won’t go: Cambridge survey shows new doubts over working mothers

The Guardian August 6 2008
Support for gender equality appears to be declining across Britain and America amid concern that women who play a full role in the workforce do so at the expense of family life, research from Cambridge University suggests today. It found both women and men are becoming more likely to believe the family will suffer if a woman works full-time. The conclusion was based on analysis of social attitude surveys over the past three decades by Jacqueline Scott, the university’s professor of empirical sociology. She said the “shine of the super-mum” was wearing off.

“While British attitudes are more egalitarian than in the 1980s, there are signs that support for gender equality may have hit a high point some time during the 1990s,” said Scott. “When it comes to the clash between work and family life, doubts about whether a woman should be doing both are starting to creep in.” The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equal rights for men and women, said the study showed how “attempts to shoehorn women into workplaces made by men for men have failed”.

..Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, added: “Many mothers tell us that in the first year of a baby’s life they want to stay at home, but often feel they have to return to work too early because of financial constraints. We need to do more to help mothers and fathers by increasing well-paid parental leave and changing how it can be shared between them.”