October 18th, 2012

Many stay-at-home parents in Minnesota will tell you that getting back into the workforce after their children got older was no easy task. In fact, some find it nearly impossible to get back to the same job or a similar position that they had before they left to raise their children.

One major factor at play in this dynamic may be gender discrimination, since a majority of parents who take time off to raise children are still women, although fathers are stepping in more frequently in recent years. Gender discrimination can take many different forms, but is very prevalent for women who are pregnant or have small children and may be given paid less or given fewer promotional opportunities because of a perception that they are less committed to their job.

This issue also hits on something that been in the news a lot this year, which is hiring discrimination against the unemployed. People who have not worked within the past year have reported having a much harder time finding a job than those who are currently employed but looking for a new job. Absence from the workforce can leave a legitimate skills gap particularly in past-paced industries. There is also some unrecognized prejudice against people who have been out of work.

Still, parents who take time off of work to focus on raising their children are not totally out of the loop and have certainly had some valuable experience during that time, even if it is often not recognized by potential employers.

Source: The New York Times, “Career Re-entry for the At-Home Parent,” KJ Dell’Antonia, Oct.18, 2012.

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