Moms Still Grapple with Work-Life Stress

November 24, 2009 ( – The stress of finding the frequently elusive work-life balance appears to affect men and women differently, with 37% of moms who work outside the home, but 79% of working dads saying they prefer full-time employment.

A research report from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project said while 62% of moms who work outside the home would opt for part-time employment, only 20% of working dads would make the same choice. Pew also found that 27% of working women say family duties keep them from working.

Moms who work outside the home also more likely than either at-home moms or working dads to feel as if there just isn’t enough time in the day. Four-in-ten say they always feel rushed, compared with a quarter of the other two groups.

The view about women’s roles is clearly changing, according to Pew. In 1987, 30% of Americans said women should return to their traditional roles in society, while 66% disagreed. Today, 19% agree that women should return to their traditional roles, while 75% disagree.

Women and men are equally likely to reject the notion that women should return to their traditional roles, while young people are among the most progressive on this issue. Among those under age 30, 84% disagree with the idea that women should go back to a more traditional role.

“But in spite of these long-term changes in behaviors and attitudes, many women remain conflicted about the competing roles they play at work and at home,” Pew researchers wrote. “Working mothers in particular are ambivalent about whether full-time work is the best thing for them or their children; they feel the tug of family much more acutely than do working fathers. As a result, most working mothers find themselves in a situation that they say is less than ideal.”

The Pew report is available here.