My Choice or theirs? Work Intentions and Network Members during the Transition to Parenthood
Laboratory of Life Course Study University of Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland
Eric D., Widmer
Department of Sociology University of Geneva Geneva, Switzerland
The transition to parenthood is a turning point for the differentiation of men´s and women´s occupational careers. This is especially true in Switzerland where a majority of new fathers continue to work full time while a majority of new mothers interrupt or drastically reduce their participation to the labor market. Using a three wave panel study done in Switzerland, this paper analyzes how social networks shape the occupational intentions of 228 men and 233 women in 233 couples expecting their first child. Based on Elisabeth Bott´s perspective on conjugal networks, it shows that high density networks are associated with gendered occupational intentions (reduced work participation for women and full-time participation for men). Moreover, densities depend on the composition of networks: Networks in which relatives are overreprensented are denser than networks in which friends and coworkers are also present. Overlap of networks between spouses or partners, and network heterogeneity (according to age, sex, occupation, spatiality) are also considered. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that the way in which women's and men's career plans are negotiated during the transition to parenthood is not a privatized matter but significantly depends on the amount and structure of social capital available to them. Results are discussed in the light of cumulated dis/advantage theory.