The changing face of motherhood in Austria
Motherhood in Austria has for a long time been characterised by the belief that a mother‘s domain is primarily the domestic one, and that it is the mother who is best placed to provide care for her children. While the use of extra-familial sources of childcare continues to be viewed with disapproval by some sections of Austrian society, there is evidence, however, of slow and steady change taking place. More women are entering the workforce, and a well established public childcare system allows women to exercise more choice in the way they structure their lives. Working part-time is a ’choice‘ made by many Austrian mothers in order to enable them to try to strike a balance between work and familial responsibilities.
In striking this balance, Austrian mothers attempt to meet both traditionalist and modern ideals of motherhood, sometimes at the cost of their own free time. Working mothers, for example, will often cut down on their personal time, rather than sacrifice time with their children when they return to work. Interestingly though, many women cite a perceived lack of recognition for their domestic responsibilities as a reason for returning to work, as opposed to financial factors. Despite the role of Austrian mothers being conceptualised in terms of responsibilities in the home, it appears that women do not feel valued for performing these duties and so seek fulfilment in other places, such as in the world of work.
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The Changing Face of Motherhood research was commissioned by Procter & Gamble (P&G)