Two-thirds of working mothers say their career stalled after having children, research reveals

Experts are ‘unsurprised’ by findings and call for firms to introduce more flexible work options for staff

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Two-thirds (67 per cent) of working mothers have said their career has ‘stalled’ after having children, according to research. 

In the annual motherhood survey from more than half (58 per cent) of respondents also indicated they were looking to move jobs, increase their hours or do an additional job to boost their pay.

The survey of 2,264 people also found the majority (90 per cent) of mothers had not received a pay rise in line with inflation.

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Katy Neep, gender director at Business in the Community (BITC), said there was often a lack of equality during economic downturns. “We know women are more likely to bear the brunt of any economic downturn when compared to men, and with the cost of living crisis coming hot on the heels of the pandemic,” said Neep, adding that BITC has seen a rise in the number of women leaving the workforce “because of difficulties balancing”, and said employers must pay the real living wage and provide flexible work options.

Interestingly, more than half (55 per cent) of respondents said they would be looking for a new job in the next 12 months, while more than a third (38 per cent) indicated they would consider changing their sector in the ‘near future’.

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The poll showed that a lack of flexible working was a ‘dealbreaker’ for three-quarters (74 per cent) of mothers, and most (86 per cent) said they would look at the flexible working policy of an employer before applying for a job.

Charles Cotton, senior reward adviser at the CIPD, said that “while lots of employers won’t be in a position to increase pay to match the current rate of inflation, they can explore ways of reducing the costs associated with being a parent”.

Cotton’s suggestions included flexible work, paid leave for caring responsibilities, subsidised childcare, onsite creche, emergency childcare support, guidance for staff trying to access the government’s tax-free childcare schemes, maternity loans and discounted childrenswear.

The survey also revealed that some mothers are living in poverty, as 7 per cent said they had used a food bank in the last year – a number that doubled to 15 per cent for single parents. Meanwhile, nearly half (49 per cent) revealed they have debts between £1,000 and £20,000.

The results come after a separate study, conducted by the Social Market Foundation earlier this year, found that new mothers can expect to miss out on almost £70,000 of earnings over a decade.

The research found that a typical woman without a child could expect to see their earnings increase by a third over the course of a decade.

It also showed that, on average, families were spending 7 per cent of their income on childcare costs, the study said, with this proportion increasing among families on lower incomes.

Scott Corfe, research director at the SMF, previously told People Management that the cost of childcare was a “national problem that needs a national solution”. “No government can claim to have solved the cost of living crisis, nor to be doing the most to achieve gender equality, if the costs of childcare remain unaddressed,” he said.