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Mothers at Work: Who Opts Out?

Liana Christin Landivar
Mothers at Work: Who Opts Out?
ISBN: 978-1-62637-641-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-647-2
2017/239 pages/LC: 2016047665
"A pivotal reference for a wide range of scholars dealing with the analysis of the complex relation between working mothers and work-life balance." —Tania Toffanin, Work, Employment and Society

"Rich with quantitative results that are disaggregated by race and ethnicity, educational attainment, occupational characteristics, mothers' and children’s ages, and more. Quantitatively oriented readers will find many details to pore over in each chapter.... Mothers at Work is valuable for its ability to complicate and deepen our understanding of mothers' experiences in the labor market, while also showing us how much more there is to explore." —Amy S. Wharton, Contemporary Sociology

"I would recommend this book to all readers interested in women’s and mothers’ employment patterns in the United States." —Sevsem Cicek-Okay, Teaching Sociology

"Presents a compelling, and detailed, view of how mothers' occupations shape their labor force participation." —Aliya Hamid Rao, American Journal of Sociology


Though a majority of mothers of young children are employed outside the home, countless articles have been devoted to anecdotes about highly educated women in high-status occupations "opting out" of the labor force. Are mothers in these occupations in fact the most likely to opt out or reduce their work hours? Do race, ethnicity, or age of children play a role? Addressing these questions in a wide-ranging study, Liana Christin Landivar sheds important new light on the motherhood-employment link.


Liana Christin Landivar is a senior researcher at the Women's Bureau in the US Department of Labor. She completed a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and has published her work in several peer-reviewed books and journals.


  • The Opt-Out Narrative.
  • Changes in Employment Policies and Cultural Attitudes.
  • Employed Mothers Become the Norm.
  • Doctors or Dishwashers? A Look at Who Opts Out.
  • Opting to Stay: Schedule Flexibility and Reduced Work Hours.
  • Does Age Matter?
  • The Motherhood Wage Gap and Delayed Fertility.
  • Looking at the Big Picture.
  • Appendixes: Occupation Categories; Descriptive Statistics; What About Fathers?; Occupation Coefficients; Women's Earnings; Data Sources.