Women Aren’t Working
It’s Ahmedabad India and it’s sweltering. A sunburst of coloured saris swirls around the room as the women laugh together in a running game. Later a senior female police officer talks about her career and the harsh, occasionally physical, discrimination she has faced. A woman who has succeeded despite a male-dominated culture and occupation. I am chatting with another speaker and wondering why the twenty-first century has turned out to be so slanted towards male dominance. “We have no tradition of work” she says. Such a simple yet profound thought. Of course we don’t! A boy will watch his father and grandfather go out to work every day, while a girl will often not. We understand the impact of role modelling – so it’s not surprising that a girl who studies a homemaker will likely develop the same aspiration. Ever since that conversation, I have been planning my next book – Working Mothers and Their Daughters. And now it’s official. Kathleen McGinn, Mayra Castro and Elizabeth Lingo have written up their research showing that the daughters of working mothers enjoy better careers, higher pay and more equal relationships. Their HBS Working Paper Mum’s the Word! analysed data from 24 countries and showed that while working mothers “often internalise social messages of impending doom for their children”, in reality their sons and daughters thrive, with daughters benefiting most from the positive role model of a mother with a career. So after all my years of guilt (when I was working I worried about home and when I was home I worried about work) I can now look at my lovely and successful daughter, currently on her first overseas assignment to San Francisco, and stop fretting. I helped her achieve what she has by showing her that being a working mother works. My book will still be written – with my daughter as co-author, of course!