10 May 2013

Working mothers leave male-dominated professions

Research suggests it is still a man’s world in some professions, particularly for working mothers.

study by Indiana University shows mums are 52% more likely than childless women to resign from a job where most of their office colleagues are men. The research indicates that women with children are more likely to feel pushed out or unhappy at work in industries where more than 70% of employees are men.

Academics also found male-dominated professions, including law, medicine, engineering and finance, are more likely to involve long hours than those where the gender levels are balanced or there are more women than men. More than one in three men and almost one in five women typically work more than 50 hours a week.

Long hours cause a strain

The report, which has been published in the journal Gender & Society, suggested the long hours could be a reason many mothers walk away from their jobs in male-dominated offices as they struggle with the demands of finding childcare and trying to balance work with family life.

However, women were less likely to leave their jobs if they were working long hours in a profession where the number of females were equal to or more than the number of men.

And the study claimed that of those who did resign, many moved to professions which are less dominated by men.

Gender imbalance is an issue for mothers

Assistant Professor at Indiana University’s Department of Sociology, Youngjoo Cha, who led the research, said that while long hours play a part in causing working mothers to leave certain professions, the gender imbalance in the workplace seemed to be the main problem.

She said: “If it were a case of women’s reticence to work additional hours, we would expect overworking women to be discouraged regardless of whether mainly men or women were at work but the results do not show that.

“In my study, not all women with children leave the labour force. When they work long hours, it is the combination of being a mother, working long hours, and being in a male dominated profession that is discouraging.”

Create a better work-life balance

As an employer, you can work with your employees to find out if there are any issues which are making them feel unhappy at work. Take a look at our guide for ideas on keeping up staff morale and managing employees effectively. 

Offering flexible working can also be a way of making it easier for working mothers and fathers to achieve a better work-life balance, improving staff morale and staff productivity.

Many women who have left a job due to stress, long hours and problems with finding affordable childcare, may choose to start their own business, which they can fit in better with their family. Our flexible and affordable accommodation is perfect for start-ups with a wide range of workspaces at locations around the country.