• Requests for reprints should be sent to the Ellen Hock, Department of Family Relations and Human Development, Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210.

  • This research was supported in part by grants OCD-CB-409 from the Office of Child Development, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and by Hatch SS-216 of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. The authors are grateful to Michael E. Lamb for his suggestion that subjects be grouped according to original work plans and later actual work status. We are also grateful to Keith Widaman for his advice on the statistical analyses and to Sharon Houseknecht and Patrick C. McKenry for their thoughtful reviews of the manuscript.


This study was designed to contribute to our understanding of employment-related behavior in women with infants by assessing how individual characteristics and perceptions of infant needs are associated with decisions about employment. Utilizing a longitudinal approach, data were collected on 172 mothers at infant birth and at 3, 8, and 12 months of infant's age. Four study groups were formed, based on mothers’early plans to work and actual work status later in the infant's first year. Groups were compared, and findings about decisions to work or stay home were interpreted in light of maternal demographic and personality attributes, and maternal perceptions of infant needs and characteristics.