Why Mothers Who Work Have A Positive Effect on Their Kids

Society has long been making women with kids who work feel guilty. 'You know, you're missing out on such an important time if you're stuck in an office all day' and 'how can you give your kids the attention they deserve if you're too busy giving it to your job?' are just some of the negative ideas thrust upon women who strive for both. Now, along comes a new study to make working mothers feel a little better about themselves, which of course they should; not all mothers have the financial luxury of opting out of work when the kids come along and, as Sheryl Sandberg explains in Lean In, having kids shouldn't automatically mean you're done with your career.

According to Vox, when it came to American polls, only 21% of pollers felt that women working when they have young kids is a good thing. Conversely, a new study has shown that having a mother with a job actually makes a positive difference in the lives of kids when they eventually grow up. This finding is outlined in a paper by Kathleen McGinn, Elizabeth Long Lingo, and Mayra Ruiz Castro of Harvard Business School.

Mother and Child

As for their key findings?

Their statistical evidence, derived from in-depth data examination across two dozen countries, suggests that working mothers have a positive outcome on both daughters and sons. Daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, more likely to find themselves in supervisory roles and earn more money when they grow up, while sons grow up more likely to spend time taking care of family members or doing household chores. Working mothers pave the way for a generation that no longer conforms to traditional gender stereotyping; the girls will grow up learning to 'lean in' at work and the boys will 'lean in' at home.


As per the researchers, "adult children of employed mothers have significantly more egalitarian gender attitudes". Furthermore, when it comes to daughters, working mothers instill "a set of skills that enable greater participation in the workforce and in leadership positions."

Stick that in your pipe 'n smoke it, naysayers.

Harvard Study

The image newsletter