Maternity leave is a critical work-family policy that affects over two-thirds of the working U.S. female population. Although it has been studied extensively, especially since the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the majority of the research has focused on White, middle-class, married, and educated working mothers. There is a plethora of information about access to maternity leave, utilization of maternity leave, length of maternity leave, and compensation during leave. However, there are several limitations in the research. A majority of studies use outdated datasets; measure family leave as a proxy for maternity leave; study paid and unpaid maternity leave as one variable; and leave out contextual factors. Using intersectionality theory as a guiding framework, which poses that women's gendered experiences are shaped by the intersection of race/ethnicity and class, the purpose of this study is to identify similarities and differences in the maternity leave practices of a racially diverse sample of working mothers. The Listening to Mothers III Survey of births occurring in 2011 and 2012 will be used for this study. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to determine the factors that predict access to leave, utilization of leave, length of leave, and compensation during leave. Results show that sociodemographic factors such as household income, poverty level, and insurance are consistent predictors of access to leave, use of leave, and length of leave. Using an intersectional approach revealed that mothers' intersectional locations can increase or decrease their chances of getting access to leave, using leave, the length of leave taken, and compensation received during leave. The results of this study show that including sociodemographic factors in maternity leave research can further our understanding of how the social characteristics of working mothers impact their maternity leave experiences. Paying more attention to these factors in maternity leave research will contribute recommendations for creating more inclusive maternity leave policies.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Ittai, Christine, "The Intersection of Race and Class in Maternity Leave: Who's Left Out?" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6181.