External pressures like childcare, housing and transportation contribute to a cycle of inflexible, low-paying jobs.
Obstacles and opportunities for career progression
Over half of lower-income moms believe further education would enhance their career prospects. However, having a career feels like an out-of-reach luxury for 64% of them.
58% of working moms are considering going back to school in the next 5 years.
Lack of money (44%) and time (34%) are cited as top barriers to making the commitment to going back to school.
While many don’t have time or a clear pathway to go back to school, they are picking up valuable workplace skills. In fact, roughly nine in 10 moms, regardless of income tier, believe motherhood provides them with know-how in areas like:
The PTO dilemma
For many working moms, paid time off (PTO) isn’t an invitation to vacation. It’s a necessary benefit to take care of their children during illness, make sure they get to the dentist and pediatrician and to accommodate school recesses. But companies don’t always provide what working moms need.
Lower-income moms spend over 30% of their paycheck on childcare.
28% of working moms need to take time off every month to address childcare or personal reasons.
What working moms want
74% of working moms would be more satisfied if given the opportunity to further their education.
3 in 10 lower-income moms need help seeking education or training programs for better job prospects.
29% of lower-income moms are dissatisfied with employer tuition reimbursement programs.
About the Mothers Overcome More or the M.O.M. report
The Mothers Overcome More or the M.O.M. report is one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the barriers American mothers face in their day-to-day lives, and the impact these barriers have on career development and advancement opportunities. The study was conducted by the University of Phoenix Career Institute®, part of the University’s College of Doctoral Studies, in partnership with Motherly — a platform of storytellers, teachers, shoppers and advocates for mothers — in order to provide insights on lower-income mothers and to help identify solutions to support and advance them on the path to self-sufficiency.
The M.O.M. report comprised a 20-minute online survey of lower-income moms (n=1,000) and middle- and higher-income moms (n=500). All participants were U.S. adults (age 18 and up) who were employed or seeking employment at the time of research. Researchers conducted fieldwork between July 19 and Aug. 3, 2023. Income categories were determined using the University of Washington School of Social Work’s Self-Sufficiency Standard. A full methodology can be found at https://www.phoenix.edu/career-institute/mothers-overcome-more.html.
For the complete M.O.M. report, visit University of Phoenix Career Institute®.
* Income levels were identified using the University of Washington School of Social Work’s Self-Sufficiency Standard (“the Standard”), which determines the amount of income required for working families to afford basic needs like housing, childcare, food and transportation. See study methodology.
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