Daughters of Working Mothers Are More Likely To Hold Leadership Positions
Working mothers often wonder what effect their work experience will have on their children, and a new study points out that in the long term, daughters of working mothers hold more leadership positions than those of stay-at-home moms. Sons of working mothers are more likely to help with childrearing responsibilities. These findings published in a Harvard working paper illustrate that gender norms are affected in a positive way by mothers who work:
Adult daughters of employed mothers are more likely to be employed, more likely to hold supervisory responsibility if employed, work more hours, and earn marginally higher wages than women whose mothers were home full time. The effects on labor market outcomes are non-significant for men. Maternal employment is also associated with adult outcomes at home. Sons raised by an employed mother spend more time caring for family members than men whose mothers stayed home fulltime, and daughters raised by an employed mother spend less time on housework than women whose mothers stayed home fulltime.
This is not unlike the gender role study I wrote about earlier, Dads Who Do Housework Have Daughters With Ambition:
Dads who demonstrate their views of gender equality produce daughters who don’t see gender as a barrier to their career success. We all talk about how important it is for men to do housework, but not many people realize that when fathers do housework, their daughters don’t assume that housework is a career option for them. A new study points out that when fathers do household maintenance, their daughters talk about attaining higher level careers:
…this study found that a stronger predictor of girls’ career goals was the way their dads handled domestic duties. The daughters of parents who shared housework were more likely to tell the researchers they wanted to be a police officer, a doctor, an accountant, or a “scientist (who studies germs to help doctors find what medicine each patient needs),” lead author Alyssa Croft wrote via email, quoting one little girl in the study.
When parents live a life of gender equality, children tend to see this as the norm. While the paper does have some alarmist language that doesn’t cite a source: “Despite research that has established the importance of maternal role models on children’s gender attitudes and employment outcomes (Davis, 2007; Davis and Greenstein, 2009; Fan and Marini, 2000), mothers continue to agonize over their decision to leave for work each day.” the paper points out what has long been proven, namely that working mothers are good for society. I don’t think that the language “mothers continue to agonize over their decision to leave for work each day” does anyone good, and in a paper that is otherwise well-researched is full of this sort of emotional gibberish without a source, it’s tiresome; however, most parents like to hear that what they do each day benefits their child.
The paper’s couching of a working parent’s dilemma about leaving their child is set in the genre of “working moms feel too much guilt” bit, set to violin music about the sad plight of women, particularly working mothers: “Research is needed that digs much deeper into the question of how this necessity or choice is affecting their children’s careers and home lives over the long term. ” While we celebrate working mothers, let’s just talk about how we need more research to determine if working, which is a normal and valued part of adult life, harms children. I call bullshit. We all hope our children can grow into adults who can work at a job and contribute to society. We would be better served to focus on the impact of types of work mothers do, comparing wage gaps, rather than talking about working at all.
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