Your Working Mom Coworker Is Outperforming You

by Alanna Greco

A new study further proves that people who think that motherhood justifies the gender pay gap are complete idiots. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis just released a study that found that women with children are more productive at work. Yes, you read that correctly. Women with multiple children, not just one, get more done at work than childless women and men, as well as women and men with just one child. In other words, these women have more to do at home than their colleagues, but they manage to out perform their colleagues nonetheless.

In order to quantify productivity, the researchers behind this study observed the work of 10,000 academic economists, whose research is recorded, ranked, and easily searched. Researchers found that men without children and men with a single child had similar productivity over the course of a 30-year career, while men with multiple children significantly outperformed both of these groups. On the other hand, women with no children were less productive than women with at least one child throughout their career, and women with more than one child performed the best.

But before we can gloat too much about these findings, we should remember that the women studied were all professionals with privilege. These women most likely had planned pregnancies, childcare, maternity leave, and paid sick days. The same circumstances don’t apply for many working mothers who face different challenges when it comes to balancing work and family.

Ylan Q. Mui at the Washington Post points out that these findings probably feel counterintuitive for working mothers who constantly feel stretched thin, and guilty about missing either a deadline or a child’s performance. But it’s exactly this experience of always having too much to do that Jezebel writer Tracy Moore credits for the increase in mother’s productivity. Moore speculates that having so much to do makes it easier to tag one more item on the to-do list.

And while this study should make working women feel proud, it also makes the gender wage gap even more infuriating. Why are mothers paid less and are less likely to be hired than single women or a man, when they can clearly handle the challenge of balancing motherhood and work? Not only can mothers handle the challenge, but they can rise to it and outperform their peers. Hopefully this study will lead to more of its kind, and eventually employers might get their heads out of their asses when it comes to hiring women and mothers.

Image: Burlingham/Fotolia