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Want Your Kids to Be Successful? Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Says Harvard Study

Topics: Current Events

Listen up, working moms. It’s time to put your guilt-ridden thoughts aside and start celebrating the fact that you are a mother with a thriving career, because children of working moms are more successful than their peers. Says who? Harvard Business School, that’s who. Here’s what you need to know.

Successful Kids Come From Successful Working Parents

(Photo Credit: The Community – Pop Culture Geek/Flickr)

The recent Harvard Business School study, spearheaded by Kathleen L. McGinn, Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, discovered that daughters of working mothers are more likely to not only hold full-time jobs, but also to hold supervisory positions and earn more money (roughly 23 percent more) than daughters of stay-at-home mothers. Furthermore, the study found that sons of working mothers were more likely to lend a helping hand around the house and also devote more time their families.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The study examined data collected in 2002 and again in 2012 from the International Social Survey Programme from 13,326 women and 18,152 men from 24 developed nations. The HBS study used this data “to find out whether growing up with a working mom influenced several factors, including employment, supervisory responsibility, earnings, allocation of household work, and care for family members.”

“It didn’t matter to us if she [the working mother] worked for a few months one year, or worked 60 hours per week,” said McGinn. The research was more focused on whether or not these respondents had a role model mother who taught them that “women work both inside and outside the home.”

Far too many working mothers hold on to a great deal of guilt because they feel they are neglecting or abandoning their children for their careers. However, the HBS study indicates that working mothers actually benefit their children by showing them that their mothers can be great parents while pursuing their careers.

McGinn insists that working parents are not only helping themselves professionally and their families financially, but helping their kids in the long run by setting a realistic example of what the modern-day, dual-income household looks like now.

In short, that working-mother thing you’re doing, well, you’re doing it right. So, put your fears aside that you’re damaging your children by holding down a career, because you’re actually training them to become a superhero just like you.

Tell Us What You Think

Did your mother work full-time or in the home? Tell us how that impacted your career and life. Share your thoughts with or community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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JUST STOP! Do not turn good parenting into a statistic that judges success by only a good job. I left my 100k job to be at home because that job did not make me a better person, instill values to my family or support a healthy relationship with anyone. That said, I do not try to compare to my working mother friends that have a different work/home life balance, because it seems to work for them. There is much to… Read more »

coach Michelle
coach Michelle

I run across this post, just as my 5yr old asks me if I can retire now so we can spend more special time together before she has to work all the time.


@and. FALSE. no such thing as typical working mom – could be from a lower income household where 2 parents need to work to earn money for the family. if the mom is educated and makes > 100k then its rare that she would stay home. this would show kids you can work and be a great mom too


I am pretty sure this study is missing out on a giant hidden variable – the typical working mom is educated and comes from a stable and affluent family. Once you take out that bias, and compare identical situations in which both moms are educated and had stable childhoods, I am willing to bet the children of the stay-at-home moms would kick ass. The only way it can go wrong is if the stay-at-home mom is clueless and overbearing on… Read more »

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