Mothers' Day Report highlights costs of modern motherhood

Saturday, 12 May 2001

Guilt, ill health, lost careers, exhaustion and impoverished relationships are among the costs of motherhood in the new millennium, according to new research from Adelaide University.

A study has found that motherhood today is a fraught experience, with most workplaces paying only lip-service to the idea of being "family friendly". It has also found that women are still expected to carry an unfair share of domestic and caring work at home.

The report, Having a Life: Work , Family, Fairness and Community 2000, is based on focus groups and interviews with 150 women by the University's Centre for Labour Studies. The Centre's Director, Dr Barbara Pocock, said:

"Our research shows that while being a mother offers many pleasures and delights, it is very hard work, and the burden of that work is not being shared. Our research reveals an epidemic of guilt, workplaces that are far from truly flexible, and a growth in casual work (which is the main means by which many women find flexibility, at the cost of wages, conditions and employment security).

"This research shows that our institutions and community expectations lag behind the changes in our lives. The fit is now poor ­ in terms of the ways that workplaces and community institutions fit with parenting, pregnancy, care of elders, responsibility for households, and the career and income aspirations of women and men."

Dr Pocock called for a community debate about what work is doing to individuals, families and communities.

"More and more of us make our friends and develop our sense of who we are through our paid work. Without major change to the terms of mothering (like paid maternity and parenting leave, real flexibility for employees in their hours, good quality diverse childcare arrangements and so on), women are going on birth strike. This is an international phenomenon that men and policy makers just don't get." Media contact: Dr Barbara Pocock (for interviews and copies of report) tel: 08 8303 3736 (work); mob: 0414 244 606.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Barbara Pocock
Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in Labour Studies
School of Social Sciences
University of Adelaide.
Business: 8313 3736
Mobile: 0414 244 606

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762