9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Gender Roles: Between Working and Caring Building II, C4.02

Professionals and Mother or Professional Mothers? A Study of Career Paths of Young Women in Latvia and Portugal

The paper aims to present the first results of a comparative research among highly qualified women in Latvia and Portugal into the main factors which determine their option for motherhood, whether or not in combination with a professional career. The two EU-countries compared have distinct historical and cultural backgrounds with special significance for the theme under study. Our central question ties in with major concerns among the policymakers in Europe, such as the low fertility rate in all of Europe (Latvia and Portugal both had in 2006 a fertility rate of 1.35 children per woman, according to EUROSTAT data) and the ambition to attain more educational qualification for all the citizens. Relating to these considerations and to the goal of providing equality of opportunities, the social and family policies have undergone recent changes to facilitate an articulation between family life and work, in several countries including Latvia and Portugal. However, despite the higher instruction of women and the incentives for mothers to proceed a career, recently a reverse trend in various western countries, such as the USA, the UK, France and the Netherlands, has become manifest: highly-qualified women choose increasingly for a full-time motherhood rather than the combination of a career with the caring for children. In the present paper it will be seen how the tendencies are in this respect in Latvia and Portugal, taking into account the general attitude regarding the place of mothers of young children. Comparison between these two countries adds to the results of the various studies which have already been carried out on labour participation of young mothers in both Portugal and in Latvia (although research comparing these two countries as yet is virtually non-existent), and the comparative studies between several countries within and beyond Europe. Taking into consideration the institutional historic and cultural frameworks, as well as of the relevant theories in this area, in this paper, the analyses of the in-depth interviews will convey facts and ideas about the conditions and motivations for motherhood, a career or a combination of the two paths among highly-educated women in the countries under consideration.