K. V. Fofanova, V. S. Dorogaykina. In Search of Balance: Family Care and Professional Employment of Women During Parental Leave

UDК 316.356.2

doi: 10.15507/2413-1407.125.031.202304.754-769


Introduction. In previous decades, parental leave was traditionally perceived as a period with a clear functional load that does not go beyond family care. While modern women in this period are trying to combine family care and professional employment. The purpose of the paper is to study the practices of combining family care and professional employment during the period of parental leave for up to three years.

Materials and Methods. The methodological basis of the study has consisted of: a gender approach explaining the reasons for the imbalance of social roles performed by a woman during parental leave; a socio-cultural approach describing gender relations as a cultural and symbolic construct and allowing to understand the process of constructing models of behavior of women during parental leave; an institutional approach that allows to highlight the action of norms and functions, regulating the period of parental leave. The article is based on empirical data obtained in the period 2019‒2022 among women of the Republic of Mordovia. The study was based on a qualitative and quantitative strategy: the method of semi-formalized interviews and a questionnaire survey conducted in 2022 were used.

Results. The article has shown that the time of parental leave is perceived by women not only as an opportunity to fulfill the maternal role, but also as a resource for professional self-realization. The paper substantiates the need for a new understanding of the meaning of parental leave, significantly expands the understanding of this period in the life of a woman and a family as a whole.

Discussion and Conclusion. As a result of the study, various options for combining child care and professional employment were identified, groups of women demonstrating different models of “immersion in motherhood” were identified, conditions were determined that allow a woman to combine child care with professional activity. The article shows that the time of parental leave is perceived by women not only as an opportunity to fulfill the maternal role, but also as a resource for professional self-realization. The article substantiates the need for a new understanding of the meaning of parental leave, significantly expands the understanding of this period in the life of a woman and a family as a whole.

Keywords: family and career balance, gender contract, “dual employment”, parental leave for up to three years, women’s career strategies, combining professional and family roles

Conflict of interests. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

For citation: Fofanova K.V., Dorogaykina V.S. In Search of Balance: Family Care and Professional Employment of Women During Parental Leave. Russian Journal of Regional Studies. 2023;31(4):754–769. https://doi.org/10.15507/2413-1407.125.031.202304.754-769


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Submitted 03.04.2023; revised 11.05.2023; accepted 23.05.2023.

About the authors:

Katerina V. Fofanova, Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Professor of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, National Research Mordovia State University (68/1 Bolshevistskaya St., Saransk 430005, Russian Federation), ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2344-8986, kateri02@yandex.ru

Valeria S. Dorogaykina, Laboratory Assistant-Researcher at the Center for the Development of Science Infrastructure, Russian Research Institute of Economics, Politics and Law in the Scientific and Technical Sphere (20a Dobrolyubova St., Moscow 127254, Russian Federation), ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8573-1464, v.aleksutkina@riep.ru

Contribution of the authors:

K. V. Fofanova – scientific guidance; formulation of the scientific problem of research; formulation of the scientific hypothesis of research; definition of research objectives; critical analysis of research results and revision of the text.

V. S. Dorogaykina – collection and primary analysis of data; development of research methodology; collection, systematization and processing of analytical information; preparation of the initial version of the text; critical analysis and revision of the text.

The authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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