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How working mothers inspire their children

With a generation’s worth of data about women and the workforce, we know that growing the number of working women has a positive impact on the economy as well as the overall wellbeing of the women themselves.

And the news keeps getting better, especially for many women who wrestle with the idea that balancing a career with family could have a negative impact on their child’s development. Encouraging new data shows that kids with two working parents might actually grow up to be better equipped for the workplace than their counterparts. Results from a recent Harvard Business School study suggest that daughters who grow up with working mothers earn as much as 23 percent more over their lifetimes than daughters of stay-at-home moms.1

That’s just a single data point in a growing body of evidence suggesting that instead of facing setbacks, children of working parents are inspired by their working mothers. And many companies have resources in place to help empower women—and their families—to thrive.

In 1950, only a third of women worked, but today, that number has doubled to nearly 60 percent. And as kids of the first generation of working women reflect on their own careers, they’re proving that growing up with a mom who works outside of the home may present more pros that cons.

For instance, daughters who grew up with a working mother tend to have higher salaries in their own jobs and obtain higher-level, higher-responsibility positions; 33 percent of them hold managerial or supervisory jobs, compared to 25 percent of daughters whose moms didn’t work outside the home.

Working moms are also role models for their sons, helping shape more empathetic behavior and attitudes. When boys raised by working mothers enter the workforce, they tend to be more supportive of women at the office, more accepting of gender equality and more sensitive to creating a home environment that encourages daughters to excel.2

What’s more, children raised by working mothers tend to develop social, speech and fine motor control skills earlier as toddlers, in part because they are often socialized in daycare at an early age.3

Empowering working parents is good for families as well as a company’s bottom line, but the smartest companies recognize that success isn’t just measured by revenue.4 By supporting working parents, businesses can play a part in nurturing tomorrow’s leaders.

Some of the most successful support programs for mothers returning to the workforce have focused on easing the transition back to the office. For instance, JPMorgan Chase’s ReEntry program offers a 14-week long reintroduction to corporate life for employees who have taken time away from work. Beyond transition and re-entry support, research suggests that mentorship is also critical to help new moms and dads thrive. For example, parents@jpmc, a resource program for working parents at JPMorgan Chase, pairs new parents coming back to the workforce with other parents at the company who can serve as mentors.

The generation currently breaking into the job market is one that was raised, in part, by working women. And their long-term successes should help women feel less conflicted about going back to work after having kids. At the end of the day, the decision is personal; but those who do decide to work will be heartened by the growing number of parental support programs and resources offered by employers—which is representative of an encouraging shift in how companies perceive and engage working parents.

Because ultimately, helping a parent give 100 percent to their job and their children is valuable for businesses and families alike.

Read more from JPMorgan Chase here.


[2] Raquel Fernández, Alessandra Fogli, Claudia Olivetti, “Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 119, Issue 4, 1 November 2004, Pages 1249–1299

[3] Paul Anand, Laurence Roope, “The Development and Happiness of Very Young Children,” IZA Discussion Paper No. 10218

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