Working mothers have a positive influence on their children later in life, a new study has suggested.
Researchers from Harvard Business School analysed data from over 50,000 adults from 25 different countries and found that mothers who work have daughters who are more educated and earn more money than their peers with stay-at-home mothers.
Sixty nine per cent of women who grew up with a working mother were employed and 22 per cent were supervisors, whereas those whose mothers did not had a 66 per cent employment rate, with 18 per cent working at the supervisor level. Employed women with a working mother earned an average of six per cent more than other women featured in the study.
The effect was not limited to daughters. While sons of working mothers did not see a difference in their career prospects, they were more likely to contribute to child care and other domestic duties. Each week they spent an extra hour taking care of their own children and 17 minutes longer doing housework than men whose mothers did not have a job.
These findings varied between the different countries. In the United States, the differences were much more pronounced than the average. Women with working mothers earned as much as 23 per cent more, and sons spent seven and a half hours more on child care each week.
Harvard Business School professor Kathleen McGinn was the author of the study. She said it demonstrated “as close to a silver bullet as you can find in terms of helping reduce gender inequalities, both in the workplace and at home”.
For a long time, many mothers have thought that their children would be better off if they stayed at home, and have felt guilty as a result, McGinn said. However, “what we’re finding in adult outcomes is kids will be so much better off if women spend some time at work”.