Women’s higher commitment to taking kids to school hinders their integration in the labour market in Valencia

  • Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
  • June 1st, 2022
(From left to right): María Dolores Pitarch, Félix Fajardo y Julia Salom.
(From left to right): María Dolores Pitarch, Félix Fajardo y Julia Salom.

Research staff of the Universitat de València (UV) have analysed the criteria for choosing a school and the mobility patterns for accessing primary and secondary education schools in the city of Valencia. Mothers are the only ones responsible for taking their children to schools in 55% of the cases. This makes it difficult for them to find a balance between work and their private life, which causes 22.1% of those mothers to refuse job offers due to schedule incompatibilities, while the figure is 8.9% in the case of men.

This study has been published by the Investigaciones Geográficas (Geographical Research) magazine of the Universidad de Alicante. Its intention is to know the motivations of mothers and fathers when choosing a school for their children in order to promote a more equitable access to public education schools. The criteria that have been used for this research are: who is the one in charge of taking the minor to school, the proximity between the home and the school, the socioeconomic profile of the family and the way of commuting.

“Mothers are the ones that take their children to schools in 55% of the cases, while fathers only carry out this duty 10.6% of the time. This percentage is even lower than that of grandfathers and grandmothers, which is 12.1%. Moreover, taking the kid to school is only a shared duty (between fathers and mothers) in 7.8% of the cases”, has stressed Félix Fajardo, professor of the department of Geography and first author of the article.

These data are a reflection of the inequity when it comes to carrying out tasks that entail looking after and educating children, which affects women’s work-life balance. A clear example of this is the existence of significant differences among the respondents who had to turn down a job offer due to schedule incompatibilities according to their gender, the percentage of women being twice higher (22.1%) than that of men (8.9%).  

Furthermore, the proximity between homes and schools is the most influential criterion that is taken into account when choosing a school, according to 70% of the answers. Regarding school mobility, the most common way of commuting is walking: 83.5% of the cases in centric neighbourhoods and 41.2% of the cases in outskirts. This was observed in the work, where Julia Salom and María Dolores Pitarch, professors of the department of Geography, also took part.      

On the other hand, the socioeconomic profile is also determinant when choosing a school. The higher the socioeconomic status, the less importance is given to the proximity between the home and the school, but more importance is given to the quality of the educational offer and the additional services available at the school, such as school meals or extracurricular activities.

These results conclude that the choice of a school is a combination of demographics, socioeconomic and spatial factors. Julia Salom, María Dolores Pitarch and Félix Fajardo suggest that the knowledge of these criteria in educational planning is fundamental when designing new policies that contribute to mitigating school segregation and guaranteeing a more equitable access to educational services.

This research was financed by the State Research Agency (AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

Article: Fajardo Magraner, F., Salom Carrasco, J., & Pirtach Garrido, M.D. (2022). «Criterios de elección de centro y segregación escolar en la ciudad de Valencia». Investigaciones Geográficas, (77), 339-362. https://doi.org/10.14198/INGEO.19086