Despite a rising career orientation among females and growing efforts of firms to alleviate work-family conflicts, female employees often find it difficult to com- bine career development with having children. Female careers appear more boundary- less than male careers, and gender differences in the sociological role model persist. Using exceptional longitudinal company data, this paper studies the return-to-job of female employees after first birth in the case of Germany with long Parental Leave cov- erage. Parental Leave durations often last for three years or longer. Our results show that more than 50 percent of those in Parental Leave do not return to their job after- wards. About 31 percent of female employees return to part-time work during Parental Leave, and among these, only 57 percent continue working in their job after the end of Parental Leave. And, having returned to their job after the end of Parental Leave, only 81 percent continue to work in their job one year after return. Furthermore, female employees have their first child, when their careers have been particularly successful. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the view that the birth of the first child and the experience of the subsequent work-life-conflict can lead to a major reassessment of work preferences among female employees. Although a higher career orientation before birth is positively associated with a return-to-job, management must be aware that a sizeable share of female employees, even among the most career oriented and the most successful, may not return to their job after first birth.
Fitzenberger, Bernd, Susanne Steffes and Anthony Strittmatter (2015), Return-to-Job During and After Parental Leave, The International Journal of Human Resource Management