Why hiring more mums is a smart move

by Nicola Middlemiss12 Feb 2015
To any employer who’s ever been daunted by the prospect of accommodating an employee’s childcare needs – don’t be. A recent study has found that women with children are actually more productive than their childless counterparts.

The study, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of the game.

In fact, mothers with at least two kids were the most productive at all.

Not-so-surprisingly, the only point at which mother’s productivity took a turn for the worse was during the toddler years. The paper found that there is a 15 to 17 per cent drop in productivity among women with young children – it seems there really is no escaping the terrible twos.

But despite the dramatic, and albeit temporary, dip mothers are still more productive over the course of their careers than women without children.

“While you have small children, it has an impact on you,” said Christian Zimmerman, one of the paper’s authors. “But after that, it seems that the impact is the other way.”

The all-male research team launched the study in an effort to understand the impact having children had on highly skilled women. Since productivity can be hard to measure in many professions, they decided to analyse the amount of research published by more than 10,000 academic economists as a representation for productivity.

And it seems increased productivity among parents isn’t limited to mums – fathers of one child and those without children may have performed similarly throughout much of their careers but men with two or more children were more productive than both groups.


  • by JaneG 12/02/2015 12:10:01 PM

    This article is a load of BS and the research base is significantly flawed. I would suggest the "researchers" move into the real word and study what really goes on in the workplace. Women who have kids are not focussed on their work in general. They frequently get to work late and leave early, with the unfinished work being palmed off to another team member, as if it's their right to do so, rather than take full ownership of their job. Their indivdual drop in productivity forces their already overworked team members to cover their slack. I've read a lot of poorly written articles based around non-facts in my lifetime but this one really takes the biscuit. What a load of bollocks.

  • by Linda Pettersson 12/02/2015 1:11:45 PM

    I am not surprised that research shows that parents with children are more productive than others. Parenting and paid work involve working to a complex round of juggling priorities and meeting deadlines, to keep the whole show afloat. I have found that mothers who work part-time are usually more diligent than any others in the work group because they know they have to leave on time and so cannot afford to waste time when completing tasks to that deadline. I am sorry that JaneG has experienced otherwise, but her experience is not universal. As for saying that the research is a load of bollocks, claims that women who have kids are not focused, get to work late and leave early, leaving unfinished work for others to do, are the observations of one and as far as I know, not backed by research.

  • by David 12/02/2015 1:40:32 PM

    Wow JaneG you must be an absolute joy to work with! It seems you have had a negative experience and so choose to lump all working mothers in the one basket. What a ridiculous statement that "Women who have kids are not focussed(sp) on their work in general." This comment is what's really bollocks!

    While I am not saying the research above is the be all, my experience with working Mum's is spot-on with this article. Another factor to add is that many Mum's use guilt to further fuel their productivity because they think others judge them (given the rant by JaneG I would say this is fairly accurate). They don't want to be perceived as "slacking off" so they work even harder.

    I would think real issues leading to a decline in productivity include coming to work sick or hung-over, personal problems not just related to children, and a general disengagement from their jobs. If you're not happy doing what your doing then you are not going to do it well.

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