Working mothers and why they take the cake

Women in Australia have never been more educated than today. They are also having babies later in life (the Australian median age for first time mums is 31.2^) which means they are much more accomplished before motherhood than ever before. Working mothers take the cake!

Why does unconscious bias against working mothers still exist in workplaces?

Just when we thought we were making headway smashing through glass ceilings, the concept of the ‘maternal wall’ rears its ugly head. Have you heard of it? It’s what mothers face in the workforce when seeking new roles or re-entry.

Working in various HR roles for over 15 years, I always found it astonishing to hear hiring managers say, ‘Oh, I wonder if she has finished having kids?’, ‘I heard she has been married for three years, she’ll probably start having babies soon’, and many variations of the same thing. It really is such a narrow-minded way to look at hiring prospects.

A 2004 Princeton University social sciences article* revealed that mothers were stereotyped into one of two subtypes: working mothers were perceived as competent but cold, and mothers who stayed at home were perceived to have more warmth but be incompetent. Interestingly, the study found that working women who became mothers were perceived to trade their competence for warmth (uh-huh!) and, by contrast, working men who became fathers were perceived to have gained warmth and maintained their competence. 

Read the full article by Kim Vespa on