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Jugglers – Working Mothers Across Two Generations

Working mothers have it easier now than their own mothers did, at least with respect to childcare, a University of Leicester study has found.

The Labour government’s National Childcare Strategy, aimed at encouraging mothers to return to work, has simplified childcare, benefiting the younger generation of mothers, according to doctoral research by Dr Henrietta O’Connor in the University’s renowned Centre for Labour Market Studies.

In the course of the study, grandmothers and mothers in fourteen families were asked about their strategies for combining paid work and domestic responsibilities.

It emerged that these strategies have changed over time, influenced by the increase in childcare facilities since 1998. It also became clear that daughters were directly influenced by their mothers’ ways of juggling work and childcare, either consciously imitating or changing their pattern.

More surprisingly, Dr O’Connor’s research revealed that grandmothers took a far smaller role in providing childcare than is often believed, largely because many of them were still working themselves.

Henrietta O’Connor commented: “It’s no secret that the post-war period has seen many more women in the labour market, but it’s only comparatively recently that academics have started to study this.

“Working class mothers with a long history of combining work and home responsibilities have often been neglected in research, as has the link between mothers’ and daughters’ strategies for coping with this dual role.

“My work took a look at two groups of working women – grandmothers and mothers. What it indicated is that, although the government’s National Childcare Strategy has had a positive impact on working mothers’ lives, further changes are still necessary to address the childcare needs of all families.”

Ather Mirza | alfa
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