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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday's Trends In Psychology: Changing Perceptions of Motherhood Around the World


Photo from FlickrCC*
Thought for the Day: As I mentioned yesterday, I will be reporting some of the studies from a variety of disciplines presented at the Museum of Motherhood's Conference: A New Motherhood? Evolving Policies, Practices, & Families. I will be giving just a brief synopsis of several studies which raise questions about the state of modern mothers around the world. Feel free to ask questions. If I don't know the answer, I will contact the presenter & find out. As you can see the presentations covered a wide array of subjects from research carried out around the world.

Dr Diana Millilo (Nasau Community College, NY) presented findings in research which compared how resumes of job applicants were perceived when the only difference in the resume was the mention of the applicant having children. For both women & men, the fact that the applicant had children led to a perception of higher warmth, but lower competence in their field of work. Sadly, this finding reinforces the common recommendation not to mention the fact that you have children in job interviews.

Anna Bagirova & Oksana Shubat (Russian Federation) examined stereotypes of motherhood. They theorize these stereotypes may be related to a "long term downward trend in birth rate" in Russia. Despite the fact that there are financial incentives given by the government to encourage people to have children, their results find "no comprehensive understanding of the positive aspects of motherhood" among women in Russia. To the contrary, negative stereotypes of the disadvantages of motherhood are more strongly formed & believed in Russian society.

Reporting her findings with single mothers, called lone mothers in New Zealand, Dr Leslie Patterson, a sociologist from Massey University, looked at whether lone parenting is becoming a "trap" or an "interlude." It appears to be turning into a trap that lone mothers are unable to escape mainly due to financial inequalities they face in New Zealand.

Dr. Gillian Anderson, a sociologist from Vancouver Island University in British Columbia, Canada, questioned what she feels is a misguided promotion by media of "mompreneurship" as an alternative to traditional paid employment for mothers needing to join the work force. By reporting eye-catching success stories of mothers starting businesses in their homes (often with strong financial backing from their husbands for several years before they become financially viable), the media gives the impression that self-employment is the easy answer to mother's need to help support their families & care for their children at the same time. However, self-employment often leads to limited income for years, long hours with less time for children & burn out rather than the flexibility & financial rewards presented in the media.

On Thursday I will present some more of the fascinating findings about the state of motherhood in 2013.

* Photo from FlickrCC: flickr.com/photos/27807834@N02/3629917145
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