The glass ceiling and the wage gap are both real stumbling blocks for women in the workplace. They're not-insignificant reasons many women don't feel welcome at their jobs both during and after pregnancy. That feeling can open the door to lots of problematic outcomes, including women simply walking away from careers altogether.
Researchers at Florida State University have just released a study comparing two beliefs about mothers in the workforce. The first is that mothers feel pushed out of the workplace, thanks to structural hostilities to motherhood; the second is that mothers opt out of going back to work, because their goals and values change to focus on their families.
The results? Basically, it takes a village to drive a woman out of her career. "We found that pregnant women experienced decreased career encouragement in the workplace only after they disclosed they were pregnant," lead author Samantha Paustian-Underdahl said in a press release. "Once they told managers and coworkers, we saw a decline in career encouragement for women but an increase in career encouragement for men."
Ultimately, women can tend to opt out of their work identities, but usually only once they've been discarded by their workplace. Furthermore, the study found that women's career motivations increased at the same rate as men's throughout and after a pregnancy; three guesses who gets to actualize those goals, and the first two don't count.
Having a baby doesn't change how most women feel about working, even though a work environment can have huge effects on almost all aspects of how a woman parents. Ironically, if parents earned a salary for their labor, they'd be doing pretty well for themselves. Until then, employers have some changes to make to truly earn women's work.