Perceptions: The Story of a Working Mother



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


As the term “working mother” becomes a customary part of our everyday language it has become increasingly important for us to understand these women as they strive to perform their many roles: wife, mother, and worker. Therefore, the primary research question for this effort is what is the perception of a working mother? Women continue to increase their participation in the labor force due to the economic climate and with the stresses of modern day life there has been a great deal of interest in the social sciences research community to begin exploring the challenges of women in their attempts to manage their public (work) and private (home) spheres. According to Berke (2003), there have been extensive changes in our society’s economic, social, and demographic realms, which have altered both the family and the workplace. Managing the pressures of both the work and family spheres has forced people to identify new ways to balance both their employment and home lives. Also, those who work at home face a unique set of challenges and boundaries that impact one’s ability to manage both personal and professional. Berke (2003) states, …there are two different boundaries that home-located producers confront and negotiate. These include the management of boundaries between the household and the outside world [external boundaries] and the organization of boundaries among activities conducted within the household [internal boundaries].…home or work roles intrude on the time and space that is equated with the opposite realm’s roles, particularly for women. (p.515) Home is often a place of unpaid work for women, especially with respect to nurturing, caring, and expending emotional labor. Because of the gendered nature of household regimes, under certain circumstances, woman may perceive paid employment at home as affording them power and control. (p.517) The experience of females as mothers and workers in interaction with home and work responsibilities is very different from men’s experiences. Where men are more likely to see home as a place for respite, women tend to view home as additional work—a place of stress, demands, and prohibiting a private place for leisure time (Grant, 2000). As social workers, this area of study becomes increasingly important to our profession because if we are to understand and provide services to the working mother population it behooves us to get a sense of the stresses they face, their feelings regarding the challenges, and their perceptions of their various roles. From a social policy perspective, we must comprehend the challenges, barriers, and nuances of this population in order to advocate for and assist in developing policies and programs which are more worker/mother familiar.



Perspectives on Social Work, Stephanie Scott, Working Mother, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Working mothers