In the last few decades, an unprecedented number of women with children have entered the U.S. workforce. The ability to negotiate the roles of parent and employee is important to the health and financial well-being of these women and their families, but institutional and social barriers impede the process. Using the empirical and theoretical literature on women and work, this article examines these barriers. The authors address the impact of cultural ideals, psychological processes, and public policy on the maternal work-family balance. Several changes that would help create an atmosphere supportive of balance are explored, including increased support for shared parenting and improvements to the Family and Medical Leave Act.



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