In 2013-2014 a total of 2,383 students from the universities of Nairobi, Iceland and the Complutense University of Madrid were asked if they would rank childcare ahead of their career and sacrifice their career if by not doing so family conflict could be expected.

The findings of the study are as follows: When people attribute high importance to childcare, they are most likely to sacrifice career for the family.  In an environment with traditional values mothers usually quit their careers. The situation is different for men: Those with traditional values prefer to remain in the job and realize their career plans, presupposing that the role of the mother is to stay with the child.  In contrast, the ”new” fathers who primarily value their own involvement with the child are also ready to sacrifice their career for family.

Further on, for both sexes the potential family conflict that could be caused by prioritizing career over childcare plays an important role: If it is expected, both men and women would prefer striking a balance between family and work over pursuing their careers.

When young adults demonstrated leadership aspirations, they preferred to follow a career path and strive towards job promotion, thus disregarding a work-family balance.  In some cases, the mother of the student asked served as an example:  Those students whose mothers worked 40 hours or more per week were less inclined to sacrifice the careers.

The following are the differences between the countries: Students in Kenya and Iceland showed more willingness to sacrifice their career compared to Spanish students. Unexpectedly, female students in Kenya reported higher career aspirations than those in Iceland and Spain. The possibilities in the labor market matter; thus, 52 percent of women in Iceland said that they would look for a part-time job after having a child, whereas in Spain it was only 41 percent. It was difficult to evaluate the differences in opinion between men and women in Kenya as sex did not always predict the intention. But generally, women are more inclined to sacrifice their careers than men.

The crucial variable is the value of being involved in childcare: The more the male respondents see childcare as their responsibility, the more they are inclined to sacrifice their career in favor of a better family-work balance.

Rather than allocating childcare as a male or female obligation, and determining its degree, it would be more adequate to see this as a general human responsibility. Gender differences are made by man.


Source: José Andrés Fernández-Cornejo, Lorenzo Escot, Jane Kabubo-Mariara, Bethuel Kinyanjui Kinuthia, Guðný Björk Eydal & Tómas Bjarnason. Gender differences in young adults’ inclination to sacrifice career opportunities in the future for family reasons: comparative study with university students from Nairobi, Madrid, and Reykjavik. Journal of Youth Studies 2015.

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