Male-dominated industries drive moms away

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Time clocked into working is getting longer and longer. However, in jobs where men reign as kings, mothers are more likely than other employees to leave jobs with long hours. However, this was not the same for female-dominated occupations, a recent study has found.

From "Overwork and the Persistence of Gender Segregation in Occupations”, mothers were 52% more likely than other women to leave their jobs if they were working a 50-hour week or more, but only in occupations dominated by men, Youngjoo Cha, author of the study assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington said. This is especially so for lucrative fields like law, medicine, finance and engineering, she further added.

Workplaces dominated by men tend to operate on outdated assumptions about "separate spheres" marriage - families have a homemaking woman and a breadwinning man, Cha said. However, in today’s context, the tables have turned, with both partners of 80% of American couples being employed.

To reduce such dissonance between mothers and long hours, Cha recommends in her article the promotion of workplace policies that minimise the expectation for overwork. Some examples include setting the maximum allowable work hours and prohibiting compulsory overtime.

The study was published in the journal Gender & Society, and it reveals how overwork contributes to occupational segregation and stalled efforts to narrow the gender gap in white-collar workplaces. Data was collected from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a national longitudinal household survey, conducted by the US Census Bureau. It included 382 occupations, 173 of which were considered male-dominated, where men made up 70% or more of the workforce.


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