Working Moms Have More Successful Daughters, Caring Sons

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/26/2015 | 04:00 PM EDT

Harvard Business School highlights benefits of children with moms on the job

For all you working moms out there, a new study will give you one less reason to feel guilty about leaving your children at home.

Harvard Business School study found that daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions, and earn more money than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home.

The sons of working moms also see significantly positive effects; they’re likely to spend more time caring for family members and doing household chores than sons of stay-at-home mothers, the study finds.


Researchers also determined that working mom also have a greater impact on their daughters’ likelihood of being a supervisor at work. Thirty-three percent of daughters of working mothers held supervisory roles, compared to only 25 percent of daughters with stay-at-home moms.

The study was based on national-level data, as well as individual-level survey data collected across 24 countries by the International Social Survey Programme in 2002 and 2012. The researchers examined results from a survey question that asked respondents whether, during their childhood, their mother had ever spent a year or more working full- or part-time.

The study’s lead author Kathleen McGinn says the income of daughters of working mothers in the US was $5,200 higher than that of daughters of women who stayed at home, when controlling for gender attitudes.

In a nutshell, going to work has more long-lasting, positive effects that you could imagine.

“When you go to work, you are helping your children understand that there are lots of opportunities for them,” McGinn said.

(Photo: Simon Jarratt/Corbis)

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