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Motives for Combining Motherhood with Employment: Evidence for Medium and Highly Educated Polish Women Around the EU Accession


This article provides insights into employment decisions of mothers and mothers-to-be in a post-socialist Poland around the entry to the EU. Previous studies for this country continuously pointed to a strong determination among mothers to be employed during the economic transformation, despite increasing obstacles to combining paid work with childrearing over the 1990s. We analyse in-depth interviews to explore women's motives to work for pay. We investigate how these motives are related to women's childbearing experiences and intentions. Our analyses show that motherhood was central in women's lives at this point in Polish history, but females sought to combine it with employment. We also find that women's perceptions about their ability to balance work and motherhood were strongly related to the meanings that they attached to paid work.