Exploring the impact of motherhood on women’s careers; a mixed methods approach

Phillips-Baker, Susie (2022) Exploring the impact of motherhood on women’s careers; a mixed methods approach. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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In recent decades, careers are increasingly driven by flexibility, reliant on individual resources and emphasising employability skills and behaviours. As women continue to hold much responsibility for childcare and domestic duties, they are more likely to experience career interruption and experience a ‘motherhood penalty’ including lack of progression and pay penalties. Research in this area has typically focused on the outcomes and material costs, and less attention has been paid to the ways in which careers are impacted by motherhood from a psychological perspective.

Three studies comprise this mixed-methods PhD, starting with a systematic review of literature on the psychological factors impacting on career decisions for women with children. Qualitative narrative interviews were conducted to investigate the factors influencing their career decisions and finally, relationships between self-efficacy, employability, and career success were investigated through an online survey (N=428) looking at the interaction between psychological resources and career success for UK women with and without children analysed using structural equation modelling.

Findings indicated that working women with children navigate many changes and shifts in their careers after children with career decisions influenced by compromise, including re-prioritising aspirations and self-limiting success. Results emphasised the individualisation of career decisions for working women with children and the role of career self-efficacy was important to their perceived employability. Women with children reported higher internal employability, and links are made to psychological factors such as low levels of confidence and perceived lack of external opportunities including flexible working options.

The research outcomes reinforced the value of maintaining employability over time, as well as access to quality flexible working opportunities, particularly at the more senior levels. Supporting women in reaching positions of seniority, not only increases diversity of representation but also encourages those coming up through the organisation through visible role models.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Motherhood penalty, Career decisions, Working mothers, Occupational Psychology, Women’s careers
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2022 07:38
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2022 08:01
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/49400

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