Home IT management Majority Of Stay-At-Home Moms Face Bias When Returning To Work, Survey Shows

Majority Of Stay-At-Home Moms Face Bias When Returning To Work, Survey Shows

Majority Of Stay-At-Home Moms Face Bias When Returning To Work, Survey Shows


In the wake of the pandemic, women are returning to the workforce after taking time off to care for their children at home. However, a recent survey from Indeed shows nearly three-quarters of these mothers faced significant biases when re-entering the workforce because of their status as stay-at-home moms.

With schools shuttered and children forced to stay home during the pandemic, many parents left their jobs to stay home with their kids. And more often than not, the parent staying home was the mom. Data shows that over 400,000 more women than men left the workforce during this time.

Now, women have been returning to the workforce in unprecedented numbers. As of February 2023, the number of women in the workforce exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Yet these women are finding that re-entry is anything but smooth. The job search giant, Indeed surveyed over one thousand stay-at-home moms, and 73% report that they have already encountered bias in the hiring process due to their parental status. And almost all (93%) of the mothers surveyed report anticipating bias in the return-to-work process. Most moms who already experienced bias reported that the issues stemmed from the employment gap on their résumé. Some also felt their experience was undervalued; others said they had difficulty finding a flexible position.

Indeed suggests that mothers should address the bias head-on by amplifying the skills they honed as stay-at-home moms on their résumé. The surveyed mothers reported utilizing transferable skills that could be highly valued in the workforce. From managing multiple schedules and balancing budgets to coordinating with other caregivers and supporting their children’s educational and developmental needs, a stay-at-home parent’s skills could help boost a résumé.

Kristen Shah, Indeed’s career trends expert, says, “The workforce has changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and employers and job seekers alike are adjusting their preferences with work and talent attraction. We see an opportunity for stay-at-home moms looking to re-enter the workforce to position their skills in a way that will resonate with employers. Being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most challenging jobs in the world; those unique and valuable skills belong on a résumé.”

Indeed provides examples of bullet points that stay-at-home parents could use to enhance their résumés such as, “Successfully managed and streamlined the scheduling of appointments, activities, transportation, and daily routines of 2 adults and 3 children,” or “ Maintained household finances and stocks while operating on a single income by creating an in-depth budget and savings plan—increasing household savings account by 22%.”

But not everyone agrees that highlighting parenting skills on a résumé is the best strategy. Academics researching bias against mothers and parents found evidence that job seekers may want to leave their parenting status off the résumé entirely. One study found that when male and female applicants mentioned they had opted out of paid work to care for family, they fared worse than men and women who had experienced job loss. Simply put, employers preferred to hire an unemployed job candidate over a stay-at-home parent.

Stanford Sociology professor Shelley Correll completed a study with colleagues in which they sent résumés and cover letters to real employers advertising job openings. The employers were a whopping 2.1 times more likely to give a callback to a woman who was not a parent than to an equally qualified mother. These studies suggest that signaling motherhood on a résumé may backfire.

Why the strong bias against parents and moms? Signaling you stayed home to be with your kids may suggest you’re more committed to family than work. In addition, people tend to hold a misperception that women employees can be warm or competent, but not both. Those who stay home with children are likely warm, so they cannot be competent. (It’s important to note that, in reality, women can be both warm and competent).

To reduce this bias against parents, employers must realize that people can be good parents and good employees. The message that work and family are compatible must come from the highest levels of organizations and government. For now, those seeking to return to the workforce after taking time to raise a family should carefully consider the pros and cons of including that part of their work experience on their résumé.


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