A recent study from the Bar-llan Universtity in Isreal has found that working mothers feel twice as much guilt when they go to work; worrying about being a poor parent as well as worrying about being a poor employee. Working mums spend more time agonising about their jobs even while they are not at work and when they are, worry over life at home. However, fathers didn’t feel as much guilt, perhaps because they knew their partners were suffering the burden instead?
The study was carried out on working mums and dads and involved them completing surveys throughout the day to study emotions and ‘mental labour’ in each party. Although the studies found that both mums and dads thought about their families while at work, it was mothers that associated the two with more emotion and stress. Mothers were engaging in this ‘mental labour’ for a quarter of their waking time (29 hours per week) while for men it was a fifth (24 hours per week).
What the research shows
Professor Offer from the University of Israel commented on her research saying: “What my research actually shows is that gender differences in mental labour are more a matter of quality than quantity. I assume that because mothers bear the major responsibility for childcare and family life, when they think about family matters, they tend to think about the less pleasant aspects of it and are more likely to be worried.’
‘We know that mothers are the ones who usually adjust their work schedule to meet the family demands, such as staying home with a sick child. Therefore mothers may feel that they do not devote enough time to their job and have to ‘catch up’ and, as a result, they are easily preoccupied with job-related matters outside the workplace”
Double guilt for working mums
Despite the study illustrating this double burden for mothers, it did show that fathers find it much easier to leave work related stresses at work when taking part in family or home related activities. Professor Offer believes this may be because it is mainly the mother than takes on the vast responsibility for the household and childcare. Even though modern dads do take on more childcare and housework duties than previous generations, mums do in general, still manage these roles.