A new massive study recently conducted at Harvard Business School shows that adult women who grew up with mothers in the work force are more likely to have jobs, supervisory responsibility and earn higher wages than women raised by stay-at-home moms. Great news for moms who may be wondering if their children will suffer due to the absence of a stay-at-home mom. This research isn’t entirely groundbreaking. As the study points out, past research about maternal employment and how it relates to young children’s well-being has concluded that children of employed mothers do as well, if not better, at school, both in terms of academic achievement and in terms of behavior as peers who do have stay-at-home moms. However, that doesn’t mean that employed mothers don’t still worry that somehow their jobs outside the home may be harming their kids. Keep reading to learn about more of the key benefits of working mothers found in this study.

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This study used data from multiple sources and individual surveys collected as part of the International Social Survey Programme in 2002 and 2012 from nationally representative samples of men and women in 24 countries in North and South America, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Even in more conservative countries, the results of this study were mainly positive. Below are some key perks found related to being raised by a working mom.

  • Adult sons’ employment outcomes were barely associated with maternal employment, but men of employed mothers do spend more time caring for family members and doing household chores than adult sons of stay-at-home mothers.
  • Kids with working moms tend to grow up learning how to better pitch in to help a household run smoothly.
  • Researchers note that children of working mothers, “observe the decisions and behaviors of their parents, learning skills and capacities that they can draw upon as resources as they navigate gendered situations and decisions later in life.”
  • The researchers hypothesize, but note that they cannot test directly, that mothers who are employed may be passing information to their daughters about important skills for exercising power and navigating career systems outside the home.
  • Best of all, both sons and daughters with moms employed outside the home are more likely to grow up believing that all people, regardless of gender, are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

This study represents some excellent news for working moms, but if you tune into the radio show debate regarding this study, you’ll hear info that touches on some of the downsides of working parents in general, such as latchkey kids with fewer at home supports or kids who have been abused by a non-parent caregiver. Additionally you’ll hear that kid outcomes may also be based on how they view their mom’s jobs – i.e. are their moms working because they want to or have to due to an absent partner, and are their moms proud of their jobs or just working to make necessary money? Lastly, there’s also that old debate that all moms are working moms, regardless of jobs outside of the home. The above in mind, this research may be most important in that it helps to reinforce calls for national and local policies supporting parental employment and parents in general. Findings of this particular study suggest that policy should focus on supporting mothers who work—part time or full time. For example, providing quality and reasonably priced child care is an important factor in the well-being of parents and kids, as are workplace policies that hinder or assist parental employment. Working moms is a huge issue, one not likely to go away, and this study and radio show make that abundantly clear.

RELATED | Moms Are Worth Three Times More Than Dads When it Comes to Household Tasks

+ Mums the Word! Cross-national Effects of Maternal Employment on Gender Inequalities at Work and at Home (PDF)

+ Listen to a radio show about this study

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