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Changes public attitudes to maternal employment: Australia, in 1984 to 2001

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journal contribution
posted on 05.05.2017, 01:20 authored by Evans, M. D. R., Kelley, Jonathan
This paper investigates continuity and change in public attitudes towards paid work for mothers of young children between 1984 and 2001, using the wide range of measures on this topic available in the International Social Science Surveys of six large representative national samples of Australia. The results confirm earlier research suggesting that most Australians are generally supportive of female employment, but that most think full-time homemaking is better when there are preschoolers at home. Only around one third of Australians feel confident that young children would not suffer as a result of maternal employment, and only about one fifth think that full-time maternal employment does not make childrearing difficult. We probe more deeply into the reasons for people’s concern about deleterious effects of maternal employment on young children, and find that the most widespread concern is that maternal employment impairs mothers’ teaching activities, but that there is also concern about the likelihood o f emotional deprivation and concern that employment erodes the level of energy needed for good discipline. Attitudes toward maternal employment have remained broadly stable over almost two decades with, on many issues, a modest shift toward more supportive views of four to eight per cent points per decade. Copyright. Monash University and the author/s


Date originally published



People and place, vol. 10, no. 1 (2002), p. 42-57. ISSN 1039-4788

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