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Successful re-entry to work life after a maternity leave

Applicant Wiese Bettina S.
Number 112548
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Fachrichtung Angewandte Psychologie Psychologisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.08.2006 - 31.08.2010
Approved amount 295'057.00
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Keywords (14)

Career Development; Implicit/Explicit Attitudes; Goal Contents; Organizational Socialisation; Maternity Leave; personal goals; learning goals; implicit and explicit gender-role attitudes; human capital theory; organizational socialization; work-family conflict; re-entry into work life; social networks; knowledge deficits

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This project aims at contributing to our knowledge of professional development in specifying the motivational and attitudinal predictors of work outcomes during an important life transition that a majority of women face at least once: re-entering the workforce after maternity leave (i.e., time a mother takes off from work after the birth of a child, ranging from a few weeks to several years). The project will deepen our understanding of the interplay between work and family and of the active role of female professionals in shaping and managing this transition. The results are expected to have practical implications in the fields of human resource management and career counseling. In these fields, knowledge is needed about factors promoting or hindering successful re-engagement of female professionals. Therefore, specifying conditions under which re-entry is most successful and sustainable will be useful for designing effective counseling and training programs. This project will also provide information relevant for social policy by outlining possible risks and benefits of extended maternity-leave programs.
It is hypothesized that success of workforce re-entry is supported by setting and successfully pursuing personal work goals that focus on the implementation of pro-active socialization strategies and skill acquisition, but is negatively influenced by stereotypical gender-role attitudes. Based on assumptions of human capital theory, it is hypothesized that the length of the leave might cause employees’ skills and social networks to deteriorate or to become outdated. Since skills and social networks are crucial for career development, women who have accumulated these kinds of deficits should profit from setting themselves specific work-related socialization and learning goals to catch up with recent professional developments and to (re)establish a supportive social network at the workplace. In addition, it is hypothesized that women’s implicit and explicit attitudes towards working mothers increase the likelihood of experiencing work-family conflicts which, in turn, have detrimental effects on well-being and work engagement. Nevertheless, these attitudes are conceptualized as being malleable, and are expected to change under the influence of the employing organization’s family-supportiveness. These research assumptions will be tested within a sixteen-month longitudinal design based on a multiple methods approach that combines laboratory, questionnaire and diary assessments. The sample will be comprised of N = 200 female professionals in the transitory phase from family to work.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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