Challenging the rhetoric of choice in maternal labour-force participation : preferred versus contracted work hours

McDonald, Paula K., Bradley, Lisa M., & Guthrie, Diane (2006) Challenging the rhetoric of choice in maternal labour-force participation : preferred versus contracted work hours. Gender, Work and Organization, 13(5), pp. 470-491.

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The notion of choice in maternal labour-force participation (LFP) is a contentious one, with assertions that LFP is a direct result of either personal inclinations, such as employment commitment or external factors, such as historically available opportunities. This article suggests an alternative framework for understanding and testing choice in LFP using preferred versus contracted work hours. It explores these constructs quantitatively in a group of working mothers (N = 275) with dependent children and investigates qualitatively the underlying reasons for discrepant preferred versus contracted work hours in a sub-sample of these women with under-school-aged children (N = 20). The results show that nearly two-thirds of women working full time would prefer to work part time and the major reasons for not acting on their preferences is because of the nature of the job and the lack of career opportunities available for part-time employees.

Impact and interest:

22 citations in Scopus
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14 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 10434
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0432.2006.00318.x
ISSN: 0968-6673
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing
Copyright Statement: The definitive version is available at
Deposited On: 26 Oct 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:20

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