Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions and realities regarding professional advancement following motherhood. Results show great conflict between work and home life regardless of employer support or family‐friendly policies. The paper also seeks to assess conflicting societal attitudes relating to work/family responsibilities and roles, with a focus on the stereotyping and discrimination towards women endemic in the workplace following motherhood. Design/methodology/approach – The paper utilized a survey with Likert‐type options and open‐ended questions to measure both perceived and real impact of motherhood on a woman's professional advancement. The sample was purposive featuring working mothers in professional fields at the managerial level and above, all of whom have children who require some level of childcare. Findings – More than 90 working mothers responded to the survey. The results show a contrast between qualitative and quantitative data and indicate a contradiction between a working mother's expected response and her reality. Research limitations/implications – Findings indicate that flexible work arrangements do not support working mothers seeking advancement. Limitations may include the size and selection of population. Practical implications – Working mothers who strive to continue an upward career track following motherhood acknowledge that motherhood has an extreme impact on professional advancement. Many mothers chose to slow down their career path, even when employer policies are family‐friendly. Originality/value – One of the most compelling findings in this paper is the disparity between women's perception of their situations and the reality of their actual experiences and behaviors, as indicated in the contrasts between the qualitative and the quantitative findings.
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