Gender roles





Many women today are facing choices that their mothers never had to face. One of these choices is whether or not to go back to work after having a child. This was practically unheard of in the 1950’s. In the 1990’s it is not whether the mother will or will not go back to work, rather a question of when. When did the choice become set in stone? Why do the mothers of today have to work outside the home versus working in the home, much like their mothers did. When one thinks of the subject of working mothers, many differing opinions come to mind. What will happen to the child, will the mother have sufficient time to bond with the baby, how will household chores be divided, and so on. When thinking of working women, two models come to mind. One of which is paid employment that has a protective and beneficial mediating effect. Employment protects women against certain negative aspects of being full-time homemakers and mothers, such as monotonous housework, dependence on the male partner for financial and emotional support, increases self-esteem because they are contributing to the world they live in. These women receive a renewed interest in life because they are in the thick of it. They are living life to the fullest. This model is the one that is constantly referred to as "bad" because it paints the woman as someone who does not really care about the effect of working will have on the baby. In fact, most of these
mothers have made this choice with painstaking care. They are constantly feeling what everyone is thinking, and this in turn
causes undue stress on these mothers.
The other model of the working mom is the one most people think of when discussing working mothers. This model is one of
a woman having too many demands of her --housewife, mother and paid employee - which may lead to role strain due to
fatigue and role overload. The competing demands of such roles may also lead to conflict and psychological stress. Both of
these models can be seen in the working mother at any given time. They are simply a fact of life, a by product of the world in
which we live. Mothers are constantly jumping back and forth in these roles, striving to find a sense of balance. But is there
such a thing? Most of the time the scales are tipped one way or another, there is never a true sense of balance. I believe this
is how the mothers survive. If the scales were balanced, it would seem that they would either be cruel heartless women,
simply concerned with their jobs, and caring less about their children. This is simply not the case. It seems that the ideal
situation is when the father helps around the house, as to alleviate some of the stress the mother feels from working and the
ability for the mother to have a flexible schedule.
Role decisions within the family unit need to increase when the mother returns to work. In order for both partners to be
happy and feel fulfilled, there needs to be a clear definition of roles with in the family unit. This is something that should be
discussed and decided well before the mother returns to work. In making role decisions, the parents must somehow combine
their perceptions of the rewards and costs associated with each role in order to determine which combination of roles will
provide them with the best role position. In other words, they need to figure out what they can do best for the family when
they both parents work. If this is accomplished, the family will function better as a unit, and stress will be alleviated for all.
Another set back that is constantly facing working mothers is that their work is looked upon as optional, it is also viewed as
less important than their partner’s. When these attitudes are confronted, it makes the transition for the working mother all the
more difficult. The constant backlash from the public makes these mothers feel so guilty that some may even quit just to
alleviate the stress. In order for working mothers to feel needed, and to have their work mean