Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

This new research will completely dissolve your working mom guilt

I love working, and I love my kids. I spent the first few years of my children’s lives racked with guilt, wondering if putting them in even a half-day day care so I could get some work done in the morning would ruin them forever. I was wrong. I was very wrong. According to the latest research, being a working mom may actually be good for your kids.

I know, I know. The working mom versus the stay-at-home mom debate is at the absolute core of The Mommy Wars. Working moms often feel judged by stay-at-home moms for abandoning their kids and spending time outside of the home. Stay-at-home moms often feel judged by working moms for not contributing financially or for giving up career for family.

Can anyone win? The answer is no. There will always be someone out there in your friend circle or on the internet judging you, and there’s really nothing you can do about it. But if you make the decision to work because it is best for your family, for your bank account and for your sanity, as I have, you can take some comfort in the fact that new research has got your back.

More: Women share the weight of their accomplishments in new ad

Harvard Business School published a working paper on June 19 with some very intriguing results. In the paper entitled “Mums the Word! Cross-national Effects of Maternal Employment on Gender Inequalities at Work and at Home,” researchers found that children of working moms are better off. Daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, get promoted to a supervisor position and earn more money than daughters of stay-at-home moms. Sons of working moms are found to be more caring, probably related to the time spent caring for family members and doing chores compared to sons of stay-at-home moms.

Researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing data from two dozen countries. Compared to the daughters of stay-at-home moms, daughters of working moms are 4.5 percent more likely to be employed. Thirty-three percent of the daughters of working moms held supervisory roles, compared to 25 percent of the daughters of stay-at-home moms.

More: What President Obama wants all working moms to know

As lead study author and Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGinn tells Quartz, these findings are surprising. Researchers expected that having a working mother could affect employment, but they did not expect how it would improve supervisory responsibility among daughters.

According to McGinn, a child under 14 whose mother works either part time or full time for at least a year may grow up with more egalitarian gender views. McGinn concludes, “What I take away is that employed mothers create an environment in which their children’s attitudes on what is appropriate for girls to do and what is appropriate for boys to do is affected.”

This is fantastic news. What I’m hearing McGinn say is that working mothers are blasting typical gender roles in the home by pursuing a job outside of the home, and often, pursuing their passion. Daughters are empowered and believe they deserve to work in higher positions. Sons participate more at home and take on a caring role in the family.

Choosing to work or stay at home is entirely up to you and your family. I know from personal experience that it is not a decision made lightly. But times, they are a-changing. I’m proud to be part of a generation that sees that not only is it OK for women to work outside of the home, but it actually has benefits.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.