By Daniel Hunter

More than half of women in the UK planning to have children feel they would have to alter their career plans in order to have a child, according to a study led by YouGov.

The main reason given by those who are likely to alter their career was emphatically given as the need for more flexible working conditions (74%). Other explanations included having to work fewer hours (58%) and preferring a shorter commute (31%).

The survey of over 1,000 women was commissioned by the Back2Businessship initiative — a programme run by PR firm Golin, media agency Starcom Mediavest Group and recruitment experts f1 — which provides parents in the media and marketing industry the practical skills, knowledge and confidence to return to the workplace.

Another alarming result was the phenomenon of ‘baby shame’, the fear amongst some working mothers with children under 16 around leaving work early due to flexible working conditions. Over one in four (26%) mothers said they feel self-conscious when they have to leave early or work from home due to childcare arrangements.

Worryingly, almost one in five women who are planning to have children (18%) also admitted that they have hidden their family plans from their employers.

Liz Nottingham, one of the founders of Back2Businessship, said that the research highlights the need for skills-based training to help mothers return to work.

She said: “This research highlights once again that UK workplaces still need to work harder to meet the needs of women who want to have a child. Our back2businessship initiative is all about highlighting and then redressing this issue within our associated sectors, but all businesses, across all industry sectors, need to evolve further. It is time to abolish a working world where women are forced to change career plans in exchange for family, or hide their family plans for fear of harming their career prospects. Businesses must rethink the way they help females shape their careers.’’