Research Sheds Light on Confidence Needs of New Mothers

Many people are under the impression that first time mothers leave the workforce once their child is born. Although reports have found that 22 percent of women who worked during pregnancy will quit after their first child, the work environment is a determining factor on a new mother’s intentions to quit her job.

Dr. Tomika Greer, visiting assistant professor and program manager of Human Resource Development at the University of Houston, Dr. Jamie Ladge, assistant professor of Management and Organizational Development at Northeastern University and lead author of the study, Dr. Marla Baskerville, assistant professor of Management and Organizational Development at Northeastern, and Dr. Kim Eddleston, associate professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Northeastern University, surveyed nearly 900 working women following the birth of their first child to examine new mothers’ confidence upon their return to the workforce.

Companies have produced formal policies and programs, such as flex work, that support employees facing personal challenges, tending to elderly family, caring for sick children, and mothers returning from maternity leave. However, Dr. Greer and her colleagues found that while formal policies where appreciated, informal interactions with managers and coworkers contributed to women’s decisions about leaving or staying in their specific work environments. Ultimately, managers who provide support to the returning mother have a positive impact upon her confidence in her competence both at work and at home, which is a key factor for her staying in her job.

The research paper will be presented during the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, May 15-17, 2014.