How help during pregnancy can undermine self‐efficacy and increase postpartum intentions to quit. By: Jones, Kristen P.; Clair, Judith A.; King, Eden B.; Humberd, Beth K.; Arena, David F. Personnel Psychology. Autumn2020, Vol. 73 Issue 3, p431-458. 28p.

Pregnancy reflects a common experience for women in today’s workforce, yet recent data suggest that some women scale back or leave the workforce following childbirth. Considering these effects on women’s careers, researchers have sought to understand the underlying dynamics of these decisions. Here, we explore a paradoxical reason for weakened postpartum career attitudes: help that women receive during pregnancy. We integrate stereotype threat and benevolent sexism theories to explain how the effects of help on postpartum intentions to quit may be transmitted through reductions in work self‐efficacy. In doing so, we consider the role of perceived impact—or the extent to which help interferes with versus enables women’s perceived ability to continue performing their work role. Results of a weekly diary study of 105 pregnant employees suggest that work‐interfering help led to decreased self‐efficacy for work during the following week. Furthermore, there was an indirect effect of average help received at work during pregnancy on postpartum intentions to quit the workforce through reductions in work self‐efficacy that was stronger insofar as help was work‐interfering versus work‐enabling. Taken together, our results highlight unintended negative consequences that occur when others provide ineffective support to women at work during pregnancy.