The objective of this workshop is to bring together researchers working on the historical and contemporary patterns and dilemmas of motherhood and paid work in Australia. This area of research is a major focus of contemporary policy discussion in Australia, with governments, community organizations and unions debating questions of work/family balance, maternity leave, child-care and gender relations. It involves some sharp contradictions in public policy, including both incentives and disincentives for mothers to work, while single mothers who stay home to care for their children are reproached for their supposed welfare “dependency”.

The workshop will include many of the principal researchers in Australia, several key scholars working internationally, and a number of emerging early career researchers. The aims of the workshop are to advance academic enquiry by linking researchers across disciplines, and to advance the public debate through a published intervention that brings together the most informed research on themes such as:

  • the historical patterns and trends of mothers’ paid work in Australia.
  • the patterns of constraint and support for mothers who work, including research on formal and informal child care, and on policy frameworks such as tax regimes, equal opportunity legislation, and statutory entitlements.
  • the experiences of mothers in paid work, including the results of ARC Discovery projects being conducted by each of the key convenors.
  • the changing place of mothers’ paid work in the wider gender culture in Australia, such as social attitudes and discourses about these issues
  • these themes in international comparison and context.