Stay-at-home parents looking to return to the workforce are about half as likely to receive callbacks for jobs than unemployed parents, according to research by UNC’s Kate Weisshaar.
The study, which was published in the Harvard Business Review found that employers are more likely to view stay-at-home parents as “less reliable, less deserving of a job, and … less committed.”
For the research, Weisshar sent fictitious CVs to real job openings. She developed three CV types: currently employed applicants with no employment gaps, unemployed applicants and stay-at-home parent applicants (job gap of 18 months).
The fictitious CVs all implied that the applicants were parents, had a similar experience level, number of jobs and skills.
In total, she sent out 3,374 CVs to jobs in 50 US cities for roles like accountants, software engineers, HR managers and marketing directors.
Through her research, she found that stay-at-home parents were half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one third as likely as employed parents.
The results were similar for both mothers and fathers.
Likelihood of receiving callback:
Employed mothers: 15.3%
Unemployed mothers: 9.7%
Stay-at-home mothers: 4.9%
Employed fathers: 14.6%
Unemployed fathers: 8.8%
Stay-at-home fathers: 5.4%
Weisshar also found that people viewed both unemployed applicants and stay-at-home applicants as less capable than continuously employed applicants, perhaps thinking their skills had become rustier while they were not working.
If employers continue to be unwelcoming towards stay-at-home parents in the workplace they are not only marginalising a large group, they are also shrinking an already small talent pool.