Several recent studies have demonstrated that working, especially part time, provides mental health benefits for women.

A study in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology examined several aspects of well being in mothers who worked part time compared to those who worked full time or not at all. The researchers found that there was little data about this particular category of working mothers (defined as working up to 32 hours per week), particularly through their children's middle childhood. However, up to 25 percent of all women work part time and most will eventually work at least part time.

They found that part-time employment has distinct positive associations with mothers' psychosocial well being and with how they perceive work-family conflicts, although the patterns vary by children's developmental periods and for particular aspects of family life. Part-time working mothers are more likely to report overall better health and fewer work-family conflicts, and less likely to report depressive symptoms. They were also more likely to be engaged in their children's schooling and provide learning experiences for their children.

A December 2011 issue of Time described a study of 1,600 working and stay-at-home moms that found employed women had better mental health status as long as they had realistic expectations of what they could reasonably accomplish and rejected the idea they could be a supermom. Not surprisingly, performing enjoyable work was a contributing factor to positive mental health status.

According to writer Sara Sutton Fell, working at least part time helps mothers develop patience with their kids and teach children that hard work-and working hard-are good. Children of working moms learn to respect women as equals, and retaining a professional career allows women to contribute financially to their kids' well being and future. Employers should recognize part-time work as both a legitimate career approach and a key ingredient to maintaining healthy family lives.

Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the government recognizes the importance of facilitating working parents' ability to participate in early childrearing. The Act prohibits employer discrimination based on gender and reinforces the importance of mothers (and fathers) balancing demands of the workplace with needs of the family.


Buehler, Cheryl and O'Brien, Marion. "Mothers' Part-Time Employment: Associations With Mother and Family Well-Being." Journal of Family Psychology 25 (6) (2011): 895-906. Web.

Rochman, Bonnie. "Working Women Who Try to Be 'Supermom' May Be More Depressed." Time. Web. 23 August 2011.

Fell, Sara Sutton. "4 Benefits of Being a Working Mom." Web. 14 July 2011.

Poduval, Jayita and Poduval, Murali. "Working Mothers: How Much Working, How Much Mothers, And Where Is The Womanhood?" The Mens Sana Monographs 7 (1) (2009): 63 - 79. Web.;year=2009;volume=7;issue=1;spage=63;epage=79;aulast=Poduval