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Sustaining Career through Maternity Leave


  • Margaret Nowak

    () (Curtin University)

  • Marita Naude

    (Curtin University)

  • Gail Thomas

    (Curtin University)


The focus of this paper is the expectations and plans relating to their return to work and subsequent career management of health professionals following a current period of maternity leave. A questionnaire was sent to staff in designated health professional occupations employed by the Department of Health Western Australia and one private sector healthcare provider. Employees selected were on the payroll as on maternity leave on a specified date. Data obtained pointed to the interaction of systemic discrimination, embedded ‘technologies’ of work organisation and attitudes and practices reflective of broader societal attitudes to women, as factors restricting the potential opportunities for the longer-term career development of these women. The authors propose that the service delivery model in the health sector should be organised around formal recognition of a range of work-hours options rather than maintaining full-time as the norm for working hours. The objective in doing this would be to undermine current patterns of systemic discrimination which operate through restricted access to training and development for part-timers and the reservation of senior positions for employees working only one standard (full-time) set of hours.

Suggested Citation

  • Margaret Nowak & Marita Naude & Gail Thomas, 2012. "Sustaining Career through Maternity Leave," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 15(3), pages 201-216.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:15:y:2012:i:3:p:201-216

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosslyn Reed & Margaret Allen, 2003. "‘I Mean, You Want to be There for Them’: Young Australian Professionals Negotiating Careers in a Gendered World," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 6(4), pages 519-536, December.
    2. Sara Charlesworth & Lyndall Strazdins, 2011. "Parents jobs in Australia: work hours polarisation and the consequences of job quality and gender equality," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 14(1), pages 35-57.
    3. Jenny Whittard, 2003. "Training and Career Experiences of Women Part-time Workers in a Finance Sector Organisation: Persistent Remnant of the ‘Reserve Army’?," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 6(4), pages 537-557, December.
    4. David S Loughran & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2008. "Why Wait? The Effect of Marriage and Childbearing on the Wages of Men and Women," Working Papers WR-482-1, RAND Corporation.
    5. Diane M. Houston & Gillian Marks, 2003. "The Role of Planning and Workplace Support in Returning to Work after Maternity Leave," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 197-214, June.
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    More about this item


    Time Allocation; Labor Standards; Working Conditions; Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • J29 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Other
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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