Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 478–495 | Cite as

Parenthood and Commitment to the Legal Profession: Are Mothers Less Committed than Fathers?

  • Jean E. WallaceEmail author
Original Paper


This research examined the relationship between parenthood and career commitment. Karasek’s (Administrative Science Quarterly 24:285–308, 1979) Job Demand-Job Control Model was used as a theoretic framework for hypothesizing the relationships between work and family demands, job control and social support and parents’ career commitment. Questionnaire data from a sample of practicing lawyers with children were used to test this model. The results show fathers generally reported more work demands than mothers; whereas, mothers reported more family demands than fathers. Job control and social support did not moderate relationships between work and family demands and parents’ career commitment. Perhaps the most surprising finding of this study, contrary to assumptions in the literature and the workplace, was that mothers practicing law are significantly more committed to their careers than fathers. This paper closes by discussing possible explanations for these findings.


Career commitment Parenthood Professionals Work–family balance Support 



This study was funded by a research grant from the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). The opinions contained in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of LSAC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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