Many governments have responded with policies designed to render work and family more compatible for mothers. Even so, policy efforts have generally met with limited results in terms of fertility change. Why? My research analyzes the social and economic reasons behind very low fertility in postindustrial countries, with particular emphasis on gender-role ideologies that place a high value on intensive motherhood while also encouraging women to participate in the labor force. The persistence of gender es-sentialism—a focus on women’s essential role as the primary caregiver—coupled with women’s full-time employment translates into two full-time jobs for women with children. This makes the balancing act between work and family highly problematic. My research thus points to the necessity for changes in working conditions and in social norms regarding gender roles, in addition to redoubled efforts with regard to policy solutions.