Why So Many Women Look Forward to ‘Opting Out’ of the Job Market

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When her daughter was born twelve months ago, Erin, a mother of one living in Seattle with her husband and golden retriever, weighed her options and decided to give notice at the company she’d worked at for nearly a decade. “We ‘re in the fortunate financial position that I got to choose whether I wanted to stay at home or work,” she says. “My husband was fine with either… And honestly it hasn’t changed our lifestyle at all.”

At age 36, with a bachelor’s degree and 15 years in the workforce, Erin is living the New American Dream. Lest you vilify her, trust that Erin is more than aware of how good she has it. “I do view that as being very fortunate,” she says. “I know a lot of people can’t make that choice without great sacrifice.”

According to a new partnered survey cosponsored by ForbesWoman and TheBump.com, a growing number of women see staying home to raise children (while a partner provides financial support) to be the ideal circumstances of motherhood.  Forget the corporate climb; these young mothers have another definition of success: setting work aside to stay home with the kids.

For the third year running, ForbesWoman and TheBump.com surveyed 1,000 U.S. women in our joint communities (67% were working outside the home and 33% stayed at home with their children) about their employment decisions post-motherhood, and how their family finances and the economy affected those choices. You can find survey highlights here.

At a moment in history when the American conversation seems to be obsessed with bringing attention to women in the workplace (check out “The End of Men,” or Google “gender paygap” for a primer), it seems a remarkable chasm between what we’d like to see (more women in the corporate ranks) and what we’d like for ourselves (getting out of Dodge). But it’s true: according to our survey, 84% of working women told ForbesWoman and TheBump that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to.

What’s more, more than one in three resent their partner for not earning enough to make that dream a reality.

“I think what we’re seeing here is a backlash over the pressure we’ve seen for women to perform, perform, perform both at work and at home,” says Leslie Morgan-Steiner, the author of Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. “Over the past three to five years we’ve seen highly educated women—who we’d imagine would be the most ambitious

Read more: Meghan Casserly, Forbes

 

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