Ask any mom how she spends her day, and most often than not, she would reply that it’s full to the last minute. Twenty-four hours a day is just not enough, right? But amazingly, we are able to cross off our to-do list one at a time. Maybe the only problem is that we just never run out of things to do because as you tick one off your list, another one gets added to it. Oh, life.
However, let's look at the positive in this situation. Yes, mothers have an endless to-do list, but according to a new research, we may actually get more things done overall. Yes, bragging rights!
A research paper entitled Parenthood and Productivity of Highly Skilled Labor: Evidence from the Groves of Academe, from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in the U.S., measured productivity of nearly 10,000 economists by how many papers they have published. Researchers Matthias Krapf at the University of Zurich,Heinrich W. Ursprung at the University of Konstanz, and Christian Zimmermann at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also took into consideration other measures of research papers and the quality of their published journals. Across the board, researchers found that women with children are producing more research more than their peers.
In fact, women with children outperform childless individuals at nearly every stage across a 30-year career – that includes both men and women who have no kids.
Of course, it's no surprise that when the woman takes care of a young child, her productivity rate takes a nosedive, about 15 to 17 percent, compared to a woman without kids. But, as the kids grow, her productivity increases again, as expected, because the older kids are not anymore totally dependent on their mom to meet their needs. Overall, according to the paper, a mother of two loses about a total of two-and-a-half years of productivity, and, yet, they are the ones who had the most work output.
So, considering that moms take time off work to get pregnant, have kids, and take care of their young children, moms still recovered and came out on top. That's even more impressive. But, after all, we live and breath multi-tasking.
The study also notes that career women who want to have kids probably planned ahead and timed their pregnancy and consequent family-related events and activities that would be best, or at least less obstructive, to their career.
“She will make an attempt to rear her children when it is least damaging for her academic career and she will also gear her professional efforts to her family objectives,” according to the research paper. However, productivity of women who had unexpected or unplanned pregnancy were only about two percent less than women who had planned their motherhood journey.
"There is widespread conviction that motherhood is extremely costly in terms of professional career advancement. In particular, it is often argued that the only way for young women to make a challenging career is to remain childless," the researchers wrote in conclusion. It adds with affirmation that motherhood-induced dips in productivity exist but far from the severity of what is usually perceived.
The research is another proof that the discrimination against mothers in the workforce especially when it comes to productivity is simply wrong. Moms have what it takes to be productive in their chosen careers and contribute largely to an organization's success. We may take leave from our career for our family, but we can come back even more determined than ever.
If anything else, this study is somewhat a vindication of the many times working moms feel guilty when they take the kids to doctor’s appointments, go to parent-teacher conferences, as well as trying to survive a full day that starts with getting up early to have the kids ready for school and ends with rushing home to put dinner on the table. Even then, our night still doesn't end as we still need to put the kids to bed, fix up the home, and get ready for another day. We always feel like we're not doing enough because our lives are so compartmentalized. Well, at least through this study, we know that our sacrifices are not for nothing. So don’t ever underestimate mothers. Ever.