Study finds children of working moms are better off in all of these ways Getty Images

Working moms, banish the mommy guilt every time you drop your tot off at daycare.

Harvard researchers have found that children of working mothers do better in some realms of their lives as adults. For the daughters of working moms, it is in the workplace that they thrive, earning more and being more likely to hold supervisory roles. For the sons, they are better at taking on domestic duties, basically showing that the children of working parents tend to not let traditional gender roles stop them.

“There is no single policy or practice that can eliminate gender gaps at work and at home. But being raised by a working mother appears to come very close to that. Women raised by a working mother do better in the workplace, and men raised by a working mother contribute more at home,” Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGinn said in a news release.

The findings are part of a gender initiative at the business school, which seeks to further research, education and knowledge on issues related to gender and work, the release says.

The results were based on a survey of 50,000 adults from 18 to 60 between 2002 and 2012. The research wasn’t limited to the U.S., and across all 25 countries included, they found that women whose mothers had worked earned 6 percent more than daughters from traditional households. They also found more in supervisory roles.

They found that the “working mother effect” improves future prospects, especially for daughters of mothers who worked outside the home before the girls reached the age of 14.

For the sons, they didn’t find any significance in the workplace, but they found that those born of working mothers spent twice as many hours on family and childcare than those from the traditional homes.

“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,” said Robin El, the gender initiatives faculty director and the business school’s associate dean. “So much of what people think they know about gender is simply not substantiated by empirical evidence, but instead is based on gender stereotypes. We want to develop the Initiative so that Harvard Business School becomes the ‘go-to place’ on gender issues, where both researchers and practitioners can come together to find ways to advance gender equity in the workplace and help both women and men lead whole, fulfilled, and sustainable lives.”

While the statistics may take away a bit of the mommy guilt, I would still have loved the choice to be a full-time mom when my kids are young. Earnings aside, that time with your kids never comes back, so I don’t know if the research will do a lot to change the minds of those who can afford to stay at home. But let’s hope it helps quell the mommy wars a bit.

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Lilee Williams is a freelance journalist and scientific study junkie based in Georgia. Email her at
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