Working Mothers and Their Needs Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The study focused on mothers in management because as white collar workers they were more inclined to suffer from the loss of steam, reputation ability to advance as they worked to combine their mothering responsibilities with the needs of the career. In addition they would have the financial ability to negotiate roles and if needed move into different jobs as opposed to quit all together to go home.

Gaining greater knowledge about how, when, and why these privileged women make sense of and construct work-family choices and identities may provide more appreciation for the struggles that other women face when not living under (presumably) the best of conditions (Bowers, et al., 2005)."

Women in management already face obstacles as the nation still struggles with perceiving women as supervisor personalities.

Add to this the introduction of children and the female manager faces a double dilemma when it comes to maintaining her career path.

Work -- family literature typically has portrayed role conflicts for white, middle-class, married, professional, and managerial women (Bowers, et al., 2005). Of great concern is that motherhood and career appear incongruent because motherhood constitutes disruptions in "normal" (masculine) career courses, work, and time expenditures (Bowers, et al., 2005) Career and employment issues are especially important at this time in the early twenty-first century because employees are experiencing a changing workplace (Bowers, et al., 2005). Managerial women participate in a destabilized new economy, job insecurity, revised notions of careers as series of employer-employee contracts, and greater opportunities to enter into alternative work arrangements, such as entrepreneurship or telework (Arthur, Inkson, & Pringle, 1999; Buzzanell, 2000; Cheney, Christensen, Zorn, & Ganesh, 2004; Sidler, 1997) (Bowers, et al., 2005). Moreover, they may find work as a means of constructing a satisfying identity (Machung, 1989). So the drive toward work, employability, and career maintenance may be substantial and complex (Coontz, 1992) (Bowers, et al., 2005)."

At the same time however, the study acknowledges the fact that motherhood is the very essence of womanhood and female fulfillment, even over marriage or partnership relationships.

When confronted by work and family conflicts, women may put in second (home work) shifts, engage in micro-managing, opt out of the workforce, slow down career progress, integrate or compartmentalize work and family time and emotions, find work to be a safe haven from relational turbulence, or resort to "mommy madness," in attempts to be the perfect mother (Bowers, et al., 2005)."

The study examined interviews of 102 women who were post and pre-maternity patients with varied occupations (Bowers, et al., 2005).

Nine of the participants were white, one was black and one was Hispanic. All but one of the participants was married and all except two of them had college educations and degrees. Out of the 11 participants half of them reported that they were upper middle class and each of them had been at their companies for at least six months and less than 12 years at the time of their pregnancy and leave.

The participants answered survey questions and the results indicate that working mothers place their primary role on their family and if needed the mother leaves the workforce to care for the family, however, they also reported that there were options to be examined before leaving the workforce, including flex hours, telecommuting, and job sharing.

The participants noted that their identities incorporated both employment and family. They wanted to continue their occupations for reasons of self-fulfillment, challenge, and contribution to family finances, but did not need to work -- that is, it was their choice to continue employment (Bowers, et al., 2005).

According to Labor Department statistics compiled in 1990, women hold about 40% of all management positions (Arnold, 1995). However, only a very few women managers have reached the top leadership positions in major American companies; top management positions are still dominated by men, and many organizations prefer to hire or promote men into these positions (Arnold, 1995). At the current rate of "progress" women will not achieve parity with male managers for about thirty years; this was not the way things were supposed to go (Arnold, 1995). The assumption had always been that once women entered the pipeline, earned appropriate degrees, and received relevant experience, their managerial numbers would rapidly rise (Arnold, 1995). Women are now in the pipeline with their educational levels equal to or better than their male counterparts (Arnold, 1995). They are getting experience, but they are not even close to closing the upper level managerial gap (Arnold, 1995). "

Part of the reasons many believe that this glass ceiling still exists is because of the obligations and duties that a working mother has to her family and the attitudes of employers with regard to women workers who either already have families or are in an age bracket that they may decide to start families in the future (Arnold, 1995).

Companies have the mindset that female workers are not worth advancing as they will only waste the training they receive once they start families.

This mindset has held women back from advancing for decades and is one of the reported reasons that females also leave the workforce once they decide to start their families (Arnold, 1995).

When women leave the workforce due to the fact that they have children at home the impact can be far reaching in the way of lost tax revenue, overall expendable income and personal fulfillment. In addition the companies they leave lose out on their input, education and training (Arnold, 1995).

Because of the impact working mothers have when they leave the workplace there have been many studies conducted on various solutions that have proved valuable. Solutions to the problem include work-life programs, flexible schedules, telecommuting and day care support.

Work Life Programs

One of the recent initiatives being used today in the hopes of getting women to remain in the workforce is something called a work-life balance program.

Studies show work/life balance programs go a long way to help CPA firms of all sizes attract and retain high-quality professionals and are a key factor in employee satisfaction (Lewison, 2006).

Successful programs address elder-care as well as child-care needs. The growing demand for attending to parents is one of today's most significant trends (Lewison, 2006).

More than a decade has passed since businesses started to implement work/life-balance-friendly policies, but only a few firms are claiming success. If top managers of an organization don't support work/life programs, they are likely to fail (Lewison, 2006).

Ernst & Young rates its managers on how available they make work/life options and factors those ratings into reviews and bonuses (Lewison, 2006).

Deloitte & Touche's program helps employees tailor a partnership path through different phases of their lives (Lewison, 2006).

The business case for work/life balance programs grows stronger every day. Research shows that employers that don't consider how family and work responsibilities affect their employees are hindering their ability to operate more efficiently (Lewison, 2006)."

The ability to balance work life and family life has shown itself though research to be a successful and viable option for employees.

When women first began joining the workforce in significant numbers it was thought that overall hours worked would be able to be reduced as there were more people doing the jobs, however, it has actually worked in the exact opposite manner, and today people, both men and women are working longer hours than ever before.

While Europe has long recognized the importance of balancing work life and home life, America is only just beginning to see that it is something that can reduce turnover rates, absentees and other problems, especially with regard to employees who also have families.

Adapting to contemporary needs calls for more than a one-size-fits-all approach to work/life benefits programs, however (Lewison, 2006). Witness the growing demand for time to attend to one's parents, which is one of the most significant trends in the area of work/life balance (Lewison, 2006). Smart firms and corn panics are implementing programs that address employees' elder-care demands as well as single-parent staff members' emergency-day-care needs (Lewison, 2006).

The challenge of effectively meeting workplace and personal needs continues to fall more heavily on women than men. More than 65% of families with preschool children had mothers working outside the home, according to HR Review, and if a child is sick, most often it's the mother who's called (Lewison, 2006)."

According to research CPA firms have been leaders in the labor force with regard to recognizing the need to provide a work-life balance program and implementing them throughout the field of accounting.

A landmark study by Xerox and the Ford Foundation, "Rethinking Life and Work," found employers that don't consider how employees' family and work responsibilities affect each other hinder an organization's ability to…

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