Harvard Business School Study Documents the Benefits of Having a Working Mother

hbs-thumbSome people assume that children who grow up in a family where the mother works outside the home will suffer from a lack of proper nurturing leading to slower social and educational advancement which will result in reduced economic prospects in adulthood.

But new research conducted as part of the Gender Initiative at Harvard Business School finds that having a working mother in the household actually improves children’s future prospects. This is especially true for daughters of working mothers, according to the research.

Based on a survey, the research found that adult daughters whose mothers worked outside the home earned 23 percent more than adult women whose mothers did not work outside the home. Some one third of adult daughters whose mothers were employed outside the home held supervisory positions in the workforce, compared to 25 percent of adult women whose mothers did not work outside the home.

The study was conducted by Kathleen McGinn, a professor at Harvard Business School, Mayra Ruiz Castro, a researcher at the business school, and Elizabeth Long Lingo, the Embedded Practitioner in Entrepreneurship, Creative Leadership, and Social Innovation at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

elyRobin Ely, a professor at Harvard Business School and faculty director of the Gender Initiative, stated that “one of the main goals Harvard Business School wants to achieve with the Gender Initiative is to ground discussions about gender in rigorous research so that people can make better-informed decisions for themselves, their families, their companies, and their communities. So much of what people think they know about gender is simply not substantiated by empirical evidence, but instead is based on gender stereotypes.”

Filed Under: Research/Study


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