Parenthood and job quality: Is there a motherhood penalty in the UK?

Laura Jones, Rose Cook, Sara Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Downloads (Pure)


Current research recognises the role of parenthood in contributing to gender inequalities at work. Meanwhile, there is a growing interest in job quality. We contribute to both these debates by analysing differences in job quality by gender and parenthood status, using data from a nationally representative UK household survey. We develop a 12-indicator, multi-dimensional measure of job quality and use this to analyse the combination and distribution of job quality attributes by gender and parenthood status. Our analysis shows that women and mothers are under-represented in high quality jobs and over-represented in poor quality jobs. While some mothers sacrifice career prospects for flexibility, motherhood is not always associated with more flexibility, and job quality disadvantages are multi-faceted. Working part-time is a strong driver of job quality differences, suggesting that reduced hours after motherhood impacts on job quality in addition to worsening women’s pay. Job quality gaps are larger for mothers of school-aged children, pointing to the additional constraints of managing work and childcare around the school day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765–792
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
Early online date24 Sep 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • job quality
  • motherhood penalty
  • gender
  • part-time work
  • Job quality
  • Motherhood penalty
  • Gender
  • Part time work

Cite this