Working mothers increasingly want full-time jobs, and tough economic times might be a big reason, according to a national survey.
In a Pew Research Center study released Thursday, researchers saw a big spike in the share of working mothers who said they'd prefer to work full time: 37 percent, up from 21 percent in 2007.
The poll comes amid a national debate on women in the workplace ignited by top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who writes in a new book about the need for women to be more professionally aggressive.
In "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," Sandberg argues women have not made true progress over the past decade and need to raise their hands more and "lean in" if they want to land more senior positions in corporate America.
The shift toward full-time work in the Pew poll, however, coincides with the recession and may have less to do with ambitions than with financial realities.
"Women aren't necessarily evolving toward some belief or comfort level with work," says study co-author Kim Parker, an associate director at the center. "They are also reacting to outside forces, and in this case it is the economy."
Among women who said their financial situations aren't sufficient to meet basic expenses, about half said working full time was best for them. Of the women who said they live comfortably, only 31 percent said full time was their best situation.
Mothers' attitudes -- both for those who work outside the home and those who don't -- have changed significantly. Among women with children under 18 years old, the proportion of those who say they would prefer to work full time has increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent last year.
When all adults were asked about working moms, however, just 16 percent said the best situation for a young child is to have a mother working full time. One-third said staying home was best for kids.
Other findings in the poll:
Roughly half of working mothers and fathers say they would rather be home with their children but work because they need the income.
Forty percent of working mothers with children under 18 and 34 percent of working fathers say they always feel rushed.
The survey of 2,511 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.