'The Right way of doing it all': first-time Australian mothers' decisions about paid employment

Deborah Lupton, Virginia Schmied

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article presents five case studies from a recent longitudinal and qualitative study involving first-time heterosexual parents in Sydney. It examines issues around the ways in which women make choices about their engagement in paid work after becoming mothers for the first time, including the role played by their partners in their decisions. It is concluded that among this largely middle-class group, paid work was seen to be very important to the women's notions of selfhood. Although the women held up the 'stay-at-home' mother as the ideal of the 'good mother,' they also acknowledged that such an ideal was difficult to achieve in practice. Most of the women felt unable to remain out of the paid workforce during their children's early years because of the importance that they attached to achieving self-fulfilment and self-actualisation through such work. For most of them, the role of 'mother' seemed a 'distorted' or 'constrained' self compared to the 'real me' that was achieved via engagement in paid work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-107
    Number of pages11
    JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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