Good News for Working Mothers: Busting through Another Myth

Journal of Applied Social Psychology, show that the more satisfied a woman is with her employment, or with having a career, the more harshly she is judged by society as a “bad mother.” The underlying assumption of this stereotype seems to be that children will be stunted in their development, or otherwise harmed, if their mother is not home when they are young. Many women report feeling guilty about working when they have children at home, even when they have no choice, because of this stereotype and the societal pressure it represents. A new study by Kathleen McGinn of Harvard busts a big hole in this myth of the good mother. McGinn polled 50,000 adults in 25 nations and found that “women with working mothers earned more and had more powerful jobs than adult daughters whose mothers stayed home when their children were young.” She found that in the United States, “women with working mothers earned 23 percent more than women whose mothers did not work” outside of the home. The good news, then, is that rather than harming their children, working mothers are providing a positive role model to their daughters. Working mothers can also be positive role models for sons, though in a different way. While McGinn’s research showed that having a working mother did not have an impact on men’s earnings, men in the United States who had working mothers “spent almost twice as much time on family and child-care tasks as those from more traditional families.” These men are providing positive role models to both sons and daughters about being equitable partners in the home. This is all good news!]]>