In a recent study of the changing attitudes of mothers, the Pew Research Organization determined that fewer mothers prefer full-time work now (2007) than did in 1997:
Among working mothers with minor children (ages 17 and under), just one-in-five (21%) say full-time work is the ideal situation for them, down from the 32% who said this back in 1997, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Fully six-in-ten (up from 48% in 1997) of today’s working mothers say part-time work would be their ideal, and another one-in-five (19%) say she would prefer not working at all outside the home.
But, really, how is this surprising? My only surprise is that a third of mothers in 1997 thought that full-time work was their ideal situation. Frankly, I’m amazed that working full-time is ANYONE’s ideal situation. Be honest: if money weren’t a factor; if, say, you could get paid the same for working just 4 days a week, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?
Personally, I think it’s the main folly of American society that we expect that our workers spend 40 hours or more a week working. Why can’t the standard be a 4 day work week? In my logical analysis, the money saved over the long term because we are (1) overall healthier and saner due to working less, (2) able to work longer because we aren’t burned out and desperate to retire would more than make up for having to hire extra people to cover the one day’s productivity lost. In fact, I’m not convinced that there would be all that much lost productivity: I think that a happier employee with a better quality of life is going to be more productive and focused in the time they are at work, knowing that they have every Friday off, or that they get to leave the office at 3:30 instead of 5.
Image courtesy of Gotham Gazette.