Working moms bad for America

Filed under: Work Life

Sarah PalinSarah Palin's nomination to the Republican Presidential ticket has brought the debate about working moms back into the media -- and into kitchens and offices across the country. Palin is both being lauded as a role model for balancing her career and her family, and berated for abandoning her children to go to work.

We still live in a culture that expects more from mothers than from fathers; there's no getting around that. But political rhetoric aside, the real question is how do Americans acutally feel about working moms? Do we see the rising number of moms in the workplace as good or bad for our society at large?

A 2007 study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 41% of Americans think that the increase in mothers working outside the home is a bad thing. But that doesn't mean that the other 59% think it's good -- only 17% feel like women in the workplace is a step forward for our society. The rest say it just doesn't matter.

Who objects the most strongly to women working outside the home? Surprisingly, it's people with a college education (nearly 50% of whom say working moms are bad for society) and people over 30 (over 40% of whom think this development is bad). In other words, it's the "opt out" generation who thinks that working moms are bad for American society.

The study pointed out an interesting distinction, though, between how we see our own lives and how we judge other people's choices: among married women with children under age 18, working and stay-at-home moms rated themselves as pretty much equally happy; 50% of the working moms and 52% of the stay home moms said that they were "very satisfied" with their lives.

The bottom line would seem to be this: while we're happy with our individual choices, as a group we disapprove of women who work outside the home, and we still feel that working moms are bad for American society.

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