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Well, this is depressing… people still think mothers shouldn’t work

A new report has found that a large percentage of people are still judging women for returning to work after having children.

The research comes via the latest British Social Attitudes report from NatCen Social Research which surveyed 3,988 adults between July and October last year.

The good news is that 72 per cent of Brits disagree with the view that “it is a man’s job to earn money and a woman’s job to look after the home and family”, up from 58% in 2008.  A breakdown of these figures reveals clear age and education divides.  People aged 18 to 34 years (75 per cent) and graduates (82 per cent) are more likely than those aged 65 to 74 (67 per cent), 75 or over (47 per cent), and those with no formal qualifications (55 per cent), to disagree with this statement.

Despite these differences in opinion by age and education, in some instances the gap between generations is narrowing at an accelerating rate. The gap between young and old in their views on gender roles has reduced considerably since the early 1990s.

In 1991 just 11 per cent of those aged 75 and over disagreed with the view that men should be breadwinners and women homemakers, compared with 67 per cent of people aged 18 to 34 years.

By contrast, in 2017 47 per cent of those aged 75 and over say this, compared with 75 per cent of 18 to 34 year-olds.  So, while there are gaps between age and education, this divide is not ever present, or even growing.

Researchers questioned people about whether a mother should stay at home with her family and found that 33 per cent of Brits think mothers of pre-school age children should stay at home. This figure remains unchanged over the last five years, against a backdrop of Government initiatives to help working families, such as shared parental leave and improved childcare provision.

38 per cent of Brits think these mothers should work part time, down from 43 per cent in 2012. Seven per cent think full time is the best option compared with five per cent in 2012.  Those with no formal qualifications are twice as likely as graduates to say that a mother of a pre-school child should stay at home. Some 49 per cent of those aged 75 or over think mothers of pre-school children should stay at home, against 30 per cent of those aged 18 to 34.

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