Importance of Career, Marriage and Parenthood: New Pew Research Center Report

Pew Research

Pew Research Center has a new report out on men and women, and the importance they put on key aspects of their lives.  Respondents were asked questions related to their careers, marriage and parenthood.  There are interesting numbers, especially when it comes to differences in women and men when it comes to the importance of career, but I have been pondering the numbers related to parenthood in particular…

Here’s some of numbers discussed in the report:

59% of women 18-34 say being a good parent is “one of the most important things in their life.” 47% men say this.

In the 35-64 age range, 56% of women say and 49% of men say this.

These numbers are up from what people said 15 years ago.

Across age groups and gender, those who say parenthood was not important is 3%.

More than 7 in 10 mothers with children at home are in the labor force.

48% of married couples are both working outside the home.

73% of Americans feel that the trend toward more women in the workforce has been a change for the better in our society.

62% of the general public feels that a marriage where the husband and wife share the responsibilities of work and children is more satisfying than a more traditional marriage with the husband being the only one working outside the home.

Interestingly, “the public remains conflicted” about whether mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing or a bad thing for society–“only 21% of Americans said it is a good thing”, and “37% said this is a bad thing for society.”


It’s probably a fair assumption that those who say parenthood is not important do not/did not want children are childfree. At least looking at these numbers, the childfree percentages are not exactly rising.

I wonder if the respondents who say parenthood is one of the most important things are already parents or “think they are going be parents.” It would be interesting to follow the latter and how that may change over time as they delay childbearing. Other numbers don’t exactly indicate that parenthood is the highest priority of those who don’t currently have children.

So most feel having women in the workforce is a good thing for society, but not for mothers with young children. The report says that women are putting high priority on their careers,big majority put parenthood right up there, but many don’t think it’s a good idea to have mom working outside the home when the child is young–but the odds are they do it anyway (because of career priority or have to in order to provide for the child).

Is this your take?

4 thoughts on “Importance of Career, Marriage and Parenthood: New Pew Research Center Report

  1. To answer your question, I would agree that a high number of people feel that it is better for moms of babies and young children to stay home.

    I also get the impression that a lot of people don’t like to raise the fact that for a woman, having a child is very likely to have a negative impact on her job or career, which is an understandable reason why the number of childfree women has gone up. The myth of a woman “having it all” is just that, at least that’s how I see it. Although many will disagree, I think it’s impossible to be a good mom AND a good career at once, without one or the other being neglected.

    1. Some current surveys etc of young women do say that they want it all–want to aggressively pursue a high paying career, have kids but keep their foot on the gas pedal with their work at the same time. Facebook’s CEO Sheryl Sandberg has been quoted to this effect, and seems lots of young women want to follow suit. Will watch with great interest….

  2. Laura, I’m curious about something; does this report give a percentage of women who want to remain single career women as well as childfree, and the breakdown of the age groups?

    I ask because I think conservatives would have everyone believe there is a “backlash against feminism” or a “return to women’s traditional role” or something equally ridiculous. I just wanted to know if there were survey results that say just the opposite. If there aren’t any such numbers, that’s okay, I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask. 🙂

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