Millions of women admit they would consider not having children because of their career

Aimee BatemanMillions of women admit they would consider not having children because of their career

  • Half (49%) of women admit they would consider not having children because of their work while two thirds (67%) of women are concerned about what the impact of having children might have on their career
  • Of those that have had children, half (50%) say they have missed important milestones such as their child’s first steps and first words because of work
  • So are the demands of work now so great on women that they have to choose between a family or a career? And what can women do to create life balance?

Half of women believe that having a baby poses such a risk to their career that they would consider remaining childless, new research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found. A survey amongst women of childbearing age* also found that two-thirds of women (67%) are concerned about the impact that having children might have on their career. Half of women who don’t currently have children (49%) feel their current career doesn’t offer them the flexibility they would need to care for another person.

The survey of 2,000 women, half with children and half without, also found that half of mothers have missed at least one milestone in their child’s life due to work: just over a sixth (16%) of mothers missed their child’s first word, a similar number (15%) missed their first steps, and one in five (20%) have had to miss a sports day or school play because of their job.

Over half of mothers (55%) questioned by AAT admitted that balancing childcare and work has been a barrier to staying in work, with one in five (20%) stating that a lack of support from their employer has made life as a working mum more difficult.

The pressures on working mothers have also taken their toll on maternity leave; of the mothers questioned, almost four in 10 mums (38%) took six months or less as maternity leave. Overall, financial reasons were cited as the biggest concern and main cause for returning (62%). Worryingly, the survey indicates fear of losing their job is the biggest driver for almost a third of mothers returning to work (30%).

The research found that many women are considering re-training as a way to give them greater flexibility once they are parents. Almost a quarter of women (24%) have changed their career after having children, with a further two-thirds (65%) saying re-training is something they would consider. The most frequent reason cited was the option to work flexible hours (64%), followed by wanting or needing better pay (48%). Many women also see re-training as an opportunity for something new, with almost three in 10 (28%) saying they wanted to use the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, and almost a fifth (18%) wanting to start their own business after having a child.

More than a third (38%) of women who have had children said that they would be interested in exploring a career in professional services, accountancy and book keeping, or finance, which all can offer flexible working patterns with strong earning potential. To help support this further AAT has launched a new suite of qualifications in skills such as accounting and business that are specifically designed to provide flexible learning which offer great employment prospects.

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