Sunday 23 September 2018

You think working mums will bring down society? Think again

Good news this week for the "Can Women Have It All?" Chronicles. According to new research, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

A study by the Harvard Business School shows that girls really benefit in such cases, with the daughters of working mothers completing more years of education. They were therefore more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earn more - 23pc more than those raised by stay-at-home mothers.

It gets better. While the men raised by working mothers have similar earnings to those raised by stay-at-home mums, they spent more time on household chores and childcare - seven-and-a-half more hours a week on childcare and 25 more minutes on housework.

It's even better for Irish working mammies. The effect was strongest in countries in which there was a bigger divide in opinions about the role of women and in countries with conservative gender attitudes.


It was smallest in countries where there was widespread acceptance of working women.

While I have no doubt that some stay-at-home mothers are rolling their eyes at this research, saying 'Yeah, you working mothers convince yourselves that your children are better off in the hands of an exhausted minimum-wage creche worker, rather than your own', this is not the first study to lift the millstone of guilt from working mothers.

Prof Heather Joshi's recent research at the Institute of Education showed that there is zero effect on the cognitive and literacy scores, or the emotions and behaviour, of children of working mothers because their mums work.

The best thing about such studies is that they are bucking the trend. Women earning more and men working more around the home? Who'd have thought?

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