Parental leave is key turning point in Careers of Women

parental leave is key turning point in careers of women

Latest research of The Stepstone Group reveals that parental leave is a key turning point in people’s careers, particularly for women. This is because only half of mothers continue to work in the same position afterwards.

What’s more a third of women do not return at all after parental leave and ultimately leave their employer. 17 percent stay with the company but work in a new position. At the same time, 85 percent of men continue to work in their previous role. These are the key findings of the study “Working Parents & Beyond”, for which The Stepstone Group surveyed over 2,000 working parents with children under the age of 10 on the topics of career, family life and work-life balance.

Three out of four mothers reduce their working hours – but only 17 percent of fathers

Regardless of whether they work in a new or current role, three out of four mothers decide to reduce their working hours after returning to work. Among fathers, only 17 percent prefer to work fewer hours. Above all, a shortage of childcare options for children forces parents to reduce their working hours: 66 percent of parents want to spend more time with their sons and daughters, 65 percent want to avoid the double burden of childcare and work.

Two out of three mothers want to work full-time or close to full-time

Once mothers have decided to reduce their working hours after parental leave, the way back is often difficult: 65% of mothers who have reduced their working hours after parental leave would like to work full-time (35-40 hours) or in a job close to full-time (30-35 hours) – provided childcare is guaranteed. In this case, every second mother would prefer to work full-time. At the same time, one in two fathers would like to work full-time under the same conditions, and 23 percent would like to work close to full-time.

“The numbers are clear: There is a marked gap between aspiration and reality when it comes to family and career in Germany – at the cost of urgently needed productivity. In times of unemployment, it is essential that we keep parents in the labor market as much as possible. The study shows that many want to. It is high time to make it possible for them, because they need more benefits from their employers and an infrastructure that really supports them. This is the only way we can decisively counteract gender inequality and labor shortages. The following still applies; mothers in particular are one of our most important reserves for the labor market,” says Dr. Tobias Zimmermann, labor market expert at The Stepstone Group.

About the study „Working Parents & Beyond“

In our fast-paced workplace, the balance between professional demands and personal well-being is becoming increasingly important. How should work be structured to harmonize career, family life and everyday life? In October 2023, The Stepstone Group surveyed around 12,000 people in Germany, including around 6,000 parents and 2,000 with children under the age of 10, about challenges and opportunities in the area of work-life balance. The survey is representative of the German working population by age and gender.

About The Stepstone Group

The Stepstone Group is a leading global digital recruitment platform that connects companies with the right talent and helps people find the right job. The Stepstone Group connects more than 110 million job applications with over 140,000 employers every year. With its integrated platforms, The Stepstone Group simplifies the candidates job search as well supporting recruiters with AI-powered solutions for the entire recruitment process. In 2022, The Stepstone Group generated revenue of around €1 billion. The Stepstone Group operates in more than 30 countries – including Stepstone in Germany, Appcast in the USA and Totaljobs in the UK. The company is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany and employs more than 4,000 people worldwide. For more information: