More Working Moms Prefer Part-time Work over Staying Home

July 12, 2007 ( - A new Pew Research Center survey finds that working mothers would prefer to work part time outside of the home over working full time or not working at all outside of the home.

Among working mothers with minor children (ages 17 and under), 21% said full-time work is the ideal situation for them, while six in ten said part-time work would be their ideal, according to a summary of research results. Only 19% of working mothers said they would prefer not working at all outside the home.

However, among mothers who do not currently work outside the home, 48% said that is the ideal situation. A third (33%) of mothers not working outside the home ranked working part time as the ideal situation, while 16% said they would prefer working full time outside of the home, the results showed.

By contrast, 72% of fathers said the ideal situation for them is working full time outside the home.

Opinions have changed on the question of whether it is good or bad for society that more mothers are working outside the home. A decade ago, research found that 38% of at-home moms and 39% of moms working outside the home said this trend was bad for society, but now more working mothers have come to see this trend as good for society, while slightly more at-home moms have come to see it as bad.

Despite this attitude change, mothers who work outside the home gave themselves lower ratings as parents than those who stay at home. On a scale of one to 10, 28% of mothers employed full time ranked themselves as a nine or 10 as parents, compared to 41% of mothers employed part time and 43% of mothers who stay at home.

The Pew survey was conducted by telephone from February 16 through March 14, 2007 among a randomly selected, nationally-representative sample of adults. Working mothers comprised 259 of respondents, and 153 at-home mothers responded.