Maternity and its impact on female employability

Maternity is undoubtedly one of the most challenging moments in a woman’s life. How to balance it with a career? How to continue on the path of success? A whirlwind of questions that further complicates the decision-making process, especially in large commercial centers. The reason for so many doubts and questions related to this topic is what we will address in this text.

Initially, let’s consider the task of breastfeeding. According to the Think Olga laboratory, it is a task that lasts from 15 to 20 minutes, but it needs to be repeated 8 to 12 times a day. Considering 7 days a week and assuming the baby is breastfed for a minimum of 6 months, that amounts to 650 hours dedicated solely to breastfeeding. Studies indicate that the Brazilian reality does not make life easier for women, as the majority are also responsible for household chores in addition to caring for their children, leading more and more professionals to opt for motherhood after the age of 40, a number that increased to 49.5% in 20 years. According to a study by FGV IBRE from October 2023, women in Brazil dedicate up to 25 hours a week to household chores, while men only dedicate 11 hours.

In a report dated 03/08/2024 for Valor Econômico, Gabriel Leite Mariante, a doctoral student in economics at the London School of Economics, explains that in terms of employability, mothers are on average 37% more affected than fathers over a period of ten years after the birth of their first child, as men are more dedicated to paid work.

Looking back, we know that women were not always protected as they are today, and female inferiority was considered normal, as Mary Del Priori explains in her book “Survivors and Warriors.” After the First World War, due to the large number of male deaths, women needed to work, but without their rights guaranteed and ended up exploited, earning much less than men and still being exposed to risky working conditions.

Regarding maternity, with the Constitution of 1934, some fundamental rights were guaranteed to improve working conditions. In addition to the 8-hour daily workday, women were granted maternity leave by law, medical assistance for pregnant women, and prohibition from working in unhealthy conditions.

Analyzing the current scenario, some measures are advocated by experts so that women no longer think that choosing motherhood also means losing opportunities in their careers. For example, redistributing caregiving work is essential to address gender inequalities, as well as increasing the number of daycare centers and equalizing paternity leave. All these measures bring more peace of mind in decision-making, as well as providing a fundamental and urgent change in society.