The question of the workplace and work-family balance is proving to be a particularly hot topic this week. Former Lehman Brothers CFO Erin Callan published a wistful essay in Sunday’s New York Times, where she says she wishes she’d had more of a life beyond work. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book came out on Monday and tells ladies to “lean in” if they want to make it, and make strides, in corporate America. And today the results of a brand-new study on modern parenting by Pew Research Center were released, making the perfect punctuation to Sandberg’s manifesto.
The Modern Parenthood Study shows a strikingly significant spike in the rates of working mothers (be it part-time or full-time) who say working full-time is preferable, up from 21 percent in 2007 to 37 percent today. And roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents.
Meanwhile, the greater public doesn’t seem as enthused about full-time working mothers as these mothers themselves. One third of all adults surveyed in the new study say the ideal situation for a young child is a stay-at-home mom. Only 16 percent say it is best for moms to work full-time, and most respondents (42 percent) said working part-time is ideal.
Considering that the 2007 numbers were pre-recession, today’s economic climate is obviously a contributing factor to the shift. Among women who reported struggling financially, roughly half say working full-time would be the best option. Of the women who reported living comfortably, only 31 percent said full-time was preferable.