Women’s Experience of Resignation from Paid Work in Response to Motherhood in an Australian Setting

Jodie Goldney, Benjamin Bradley


Despite workplace rhetoric moving towards provision of family-friendly employment environments, in Australia, approximately one fifth of working women resign from paid work at the birth of their child (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Research exploring this experience, whilst scare, is necessary to facilitate understanding of resultant expertise loss within the workplace, and implications to mother’s mental health. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten Sydney-based women who had resigned from paid work in response to motherhood in the last twelve years. Data was analyzed using relational methodology (Brown and Gilligan) giving consideration to co-created intersubjective space (Bradley; Slater). Results suggest that, as women move from the psychosocial space of employed individual into that of mother, they experience anger, guilt, substance abuse and/or depression and/or personal growth facilitated by agency and permission.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.