Voices from the Working Lives Project: The Push-pull of Work and Care

  •  Heather Fehring    
  •  Katherine Herring    


A recent policy direction in many OECD countries has been to increase workforce participation for women of childbearing age; a policy direction which seemingly runs counter to a need for improved work-life balance for women themselves. This article explores the impact of this somewhat contradictory ‘push-pull’ of policy by examining some difficulties of workforce participation, transition and re-entry articulated by female case study participants from an Australian Research Council funded study, which examined the career decision-making of contemporary Australian workers. Against a backdrop of the larger study, this article features detail from interviews with skilled women workers on their return from maternity leave, particularly addressing their difficult transitions between work and care and their varying responses to workplace marginalisation. In light of policy initiatives aimed to boost workforce participation, this article aims to contribute to raising the profile of issues surrounding the cost of parenting to contemporary women.

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