Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2018

Document Type



Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Juliana Svistova

Second Advisor

Dr. John Conahan

Third Advisor

Dr. Yasoda Sharma


The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law in 1993. FMLA, allowing for a few exceptions and criteria, provides unpaid leave for certain health conditions or for the birth or adoption of a child. While the United States offers a gender-neutral policy unlike most other nations, the leave is not required to be paid. This can have enormous impacts on not only a female’s decision to return to work after the birth of a child but her continued decision to pursue leadership roles within the workforce. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between female leadership and compare the paid and unpaid parental leave policies in the US and Finland. Additionally, this study will explore the relationships between additional barriers to female leadership and parental leave policies, as it exists within the two countries. Utilizing a qualitative research methodology the findings suggest that motherhood was found to lead to substantial changes in each woman’s life on both personal and professional level. Finnish women reported a more positive overall experience with motherhood, leadership and paid leave. Women in the United States however reported very different experience to include feelings of struggling, issues with 3 balancing work and childcare needs and a feeling of inadequacy and guilt when it came to taking time off after the birth of their children.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Included in

Social Work Commons



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