Résumé : In this paper we aim to study and compare the countries of the former EU-15 in terms of the difference in labour market conditions between mothers and non-mothers and we look at how public policies can be designed in order to minimise the employment penalties associated with the presence of young children and thus promote parenthood by working women. As women choose to take part in paid employment, fertility rates will depend on their possibilities to combine employment and motherhood. As a result, the motherhood-induced employment penalties discussed in this paper as well as the role of public policies should be given priority attention by politicians and policy-makers. Firstly, in this paper we start out from a multinomial logit model to analyse motherhood-induced employment gaps in the EU-15. Then, various decomposition techniques (the method of recycled prediction and the Oaxaca (1973) and Blinder (1973) technique adapted to the non-linear case) are applied to the computed gross FTE employment gaps between mothers and non-mothers to isolate the net employment effect associated with the presence of children from that of differences in characteristics between mothers and non-mothers. Special attention is also given to the specific role of education to contain the negative labour market consequences that derive from the presence of young children. It seems that differences in characteristics such as age, education and non labour personal income do not influence a lot the difference in employment status. Secondly, we use an OLS regression to confront motherhood-induced employment penalties with selfconstructed country-specific indicators of child policies, used as explanatory variables, in order to test the impact and effectiveness of policies of different design and generosity on these employment gaps that separate mothers of young children from non-mothers and mothers with grown up children. We round off our analysis by presenting a new typology and country-specific overview of the adjustment mechanisms applied by career-pursuing mothers on the labour market as well as of the supportiveness of different child policies. In the conclusion, we carefully review the main results of this research, advance a number of policy recommendations and suggest interesting avenues for future research.