The study, conducted by Kingston University's Business School, is published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
After examining annual job satisfaction levels of nearly 10,000 people in the UK between 1991 and 2008, the team found that the negative effect of major life events on job satisfaction is significantly stronger for women.
Professor Yannis Georgellis, Director of the Center for Research in Employment, Skills, and Society at Kingston Business School, explained:
"Quite often how you feel about your job is determined by outside factors. Before they happy life event, people may experience increased job satisfaction because of the 'spillover' effect, where happiness at home influences happiness at work. But afterwards, people's focus inevitably shifts more towards home life as priorities change and the work-life conflict kicks in. This is particularly true for people when they start a family."
According to Professor Georgellis: "People are less happy at work for up to five years after their first baby is born, though the effect seems to be stronger for women, especially those in the public sector."
As a result of these findings, UK employers should consider extending the length of maternity leave, said Professor Georgellis. "In Scandinavian countries they have very generous maternity leave provisions and jobs are held open for people - perhaps that should be the case in the UK. Sweden, for instance, allocates parents 480 days per child, of which the father must take 60, and which can be taken any time until the child is eight years old," he explained.
Furthermore, the team found that higher incomes and recently changing jobs were associated with positive job satisfaction. According to the researchers, women working in the public sector are more likely to be motivated by non-monetary rewards. Long working hours was shown to be associated with less job satisfaction.
Written by Grace Rattue