As you’re probably well aware, the expectations and achievements of women and mothers in higher education have changed dramatically in the last few decades. The strides women have made in closing the gender gap in both education and career have been well-documented in the news. Still, despite these advances, no one feels torn about going off to earn a degree or to the workplace like mothers. Today’s mother feels an acute tug-of-war between pursuing a career and giving her children the care they need.


Conquering College?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more women are earning bachelor’s degrees than men. In the category of young adults, this is especially true, with 36 percent of women earning their bachelor’s degrees and only 28 percent men earning the same degree.

This trend is also seen among all working adults. Out of working adults over the age of 25, 37 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree under their belts, while their male counterparts lag behind with 35 percent.

Interestingly enough, out of the entire population over age 25, men still have a slight lead. In this group, 30.3 percent of all men over 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree. Women trail by thinnest of margins at 29.6 percent.

Naturally, these shifts mean that U.S. mothers are more educated than they’ve ever been. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of births in the U.S. are to mothers who have some college education or more. With that greater level of education, moms are more equipped than ever to make an impact not just in their homes, but also in the workplace and in their family’s pocketbook.


Work-Life Balance

Whether because of cultural shifts or economic necessity, working moms are more common than ever. Yet for many working moms, the many question has become whether to work full- and part-time. Of course, the biggest factor in this decision is how their work schedule will affect their ability to nurture their children.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows that approximately 66 percent of moms in the U.S. now work outside the home. Approximately three fourths of those working moms are full-time; the rest are part-time. With these increases in the number of working moms, women have grown to 47 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Unlike so many of their male counterparts, mothers have a unique quandary. Whereas fathers and husbands feel their primary responsibility in their work, working moms particularly feel conflicted between their responsibilities to their jobs and their duties to their children. This had led to working moms giving themselves a pretty harsh self-evaluation on their mothering duties. Only 33 percent of working moms give themselves a high score on their parenting performance, compared to 43 percent for stay-at-home moms.

This conflict manifests itself in the following findings. Forty-one percent of moms who work full-time say they constantly feel rushed; 40 percent of part-time working moms say the same thing. Compare those numbers to the mere 26 percent of stay-at-home moms who say the same thing and you start to see the struggle that working moms feel.

For this reason, working moms have to choose wisely whether they want to work full-time or part-time. Of course, for these moms, their first priority is the care of the children. They want to work enough to provide for their families but not so much that they can’t see to the physical and emotional needs of their kids. To strike this balance, 60 percent of working mothers have found the ideal situation for them is to work part-time.

If you’re a working mom, what do you think about the progress that women have and mothers have made in education and the workforce? What unique struggles to moms have in their careers? Tell us in the comments below!

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