Study: Stay-at-home parents half as likely to land interviews as laid-off workers

A study discussed in the "Harvard Business Review" journal shows stay-at-home parents are half as likely to be interviewed than laid of workers.

Study: Stay-at-home parents half as likely to land interviews as laid-off workers

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Study: Stay-at-home parents half as likely to land interviews as laid-off workers

Re-entering the workforce is scary.

The mere idea of updating a resume is terrifying. Maybe the format you remember now belongs in the Smithsonian. And asking around about job prospects can be humbling.

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What’s even scarier?

If you decided to stay home to care for your children, whether you’re a mom or dad, you’re already behind the hiring game, according to a study published in the American Sociological Review in January.

The bottom line: Stay-at-home parents were half as likely to get an interview as laid off parents who were absent from the workforce for the same amount of time. Parents without resume gaps were three times as likely to get callbacks for jobs.

Kate Weisshaar, assistant professor of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill, shared with the Harvard Business Review that she submitted fictitious resumes for 3,374 job postings from 2015 to 2016 in 50 U.S. Cities.

The outcome

She tracked call backs for interviews for accountants, financial analysts, software engineers, HR managers, and marketing directors.

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The applications indicated that all were parents with the same experience, number of jobs and skills. According to Weisshaar the results show “just how heavily parents reentering the workforce are penalized for their career gap:”

  • 15.3 percent of the employed mothers, 9.7 percent of the unemployed mothers and 4.9 percent of the stay-at-home mothers received a call-back.
  • While 14.6 percent of the employed fathers and 8.8 percent of unemployed fathers received a callback, only 5.4 percent of stay-at-home fathers did.

Weisshaar’s attempts to understand the bias led her to create a national survey in which employers evaluated fictitious resumes, from someone that they knew was continuously employed, laid off or a stay-at-home mom or dad.

The motherhood penalty

What Weisshaar said she found was something that only underscored what numerous studies have identified as the motherhood penalty:

“Respondents viewed stay-at-home parents as less reliable, less deserving of a job, and — the biggest penalty — less committed to work, compared with unemployed applicants.”

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