Research finds that daughters of working mothers earn more. Why are all the comments so sceptical?

(45 Posts)
BrewsterToo Thu 25-Jun-15 10:13:10

www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/having-a-working-mother-works-for-daughters?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2#comment-54416193

www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/having-a-working-mother-works-for-daughters?CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2#comment-54416193

I read this article (and skim read the original research article) and thought it was great that research shows long term positive and important side-effects of working mothers.

However, the comment section is dismal. Trying to discredit the article by questioning the method (whilst obviously not having read the original research article), stating that "happiness" or "choice" is a far more important outcome of a childhood and that therefore this research is irrelevant, that this research vilifies SAHM (it doesn't), that's it's feminist propaganda, etc etc.

Why???? It makes me dispair.

Yops Thu 25-Jun-15 10:45:39

Primarily because the world is full of contrary/daft/aggressive/different (delete as appropriate) people. The internet exposes us to them as never before, and everyone can have their say about anything, whether they are qualified to comment or not. Hence bin-men can argue with GPs, biologists with architects and office monkeys with professors.

This is going to sound goady, and it isn't meant to be, but if this stuff makes you despair, the internet is best avoided.

BrewsterToo Thu 25-Jun-15 11:01:46

How do we change perceptions if those attitudes go unchallenged though?

Yops Thu 25-Jun-15 11:15:34

All views were challenged in that comment section though - those who agreed with the survey were arguing the toss with those who disagreed.

You seem to be despairing of those who argue against the findings. Why? You find contrary views on everything on the internet - everything. People will argue against climate change, welfare, government policy, gravity - you name it. It is a magnificent platform for airing and sharing everything, but you cannot wheedle out stupidity and ignorance.

abitwrong123 Thu 25-Jun-15 11:22:39

Agree with YOPS and BrewsterToo.

I would much rather people argue against something and open up a discussion as that allows views/perceptions to be challenged.

abitwrong123 Thu 25-Jun-15 11:24:59

Sorry, I've read your second comment completely wrong BrewsterToo.

I meant that I often think it's great to see a negative comment that can be discussed / challenged rather than have people simply carry on thinking something and never have the opportunity to change that perception.

I'm rambling now aren't I......

Nolim Thu 25-Jun-15 11:36:22

I havent read the comment section but sah/woh is a topic when opinions are very strong, so i am not surprised.

From a personal point of view i am not surprised with the results of the study since my mum was a wohm i learned valuable lessons because of it <pround daughter emoticon>

Mide7 Thu 25-Jun-15 11:56:45

As general comment OP not really directed at you. I've no idea why people read comments on news stories online.It just seems like a recipe for high blood pressure to me.

Although perhaps me commenting on a forum about this will make me have some sort of irony explosion.

BrewsterToo Thu 25-Jun-15 12:00:29

Of course I agree with you Yops. I guess I was just venting. Especially since the reasons to dismiss this scientific article are often so unscientific.

It seems there are now more commenters on that Guardian thread that challenge the sexist and ignorant comments. Good!

BrewsterToo Thu 25-Jun-15 12:05:08

Mide, true, reading comment threads seems a recipe for raised blood pressure.

Why didn't I resist?

slug Thu 25-Jun-15 12:20:58

Never, never read the comments in the mysogeny is free section.

Miggsie Thu 25-Jun-15 13:15:03

It isn't too surprising though, is it?

As a working woman I can advise DD on work, attitudes of other workers on women in STEM, best ways of dealing with this (30 years of experience) which DH wouldn't have as great an insight into (having never experienced institutional sexism or being groped at work).
Thus DD is able to draw on knowledge about working life that she would only get otherwise from a mentor after she started work (if she actually found a mentor of course).

I wish my parents had been able to give me the advice I know I can give DD when she comes to make her career choices.

Never ever read general comments on newspaper articles - unless you are doing a Phd in why people will cling to irrational and incorrect prejudices and stereotypes in the face of all contradictory evidence.
If you are interested in the depths of self delusion and irrational beliefs there has recently been a study on "end of the world" believers, who predicted the end of the world on a certain day, the world then failed to end, but they held to their beliefs even more strongly afterwards - the world was at fault, not them.

GirlSailor Thu 25-Jun-15 13:34:05

I don't have any criticism of the findings but do have some questions that I'm not sure if the research covers.

1. At what age is the working mother role model a factor - are we comparing extremes, so mothers who continue to work after minimal maternity leave with those who continue as SAHP indefinitely? Or are mothers with a part time job, or those who return to work after the kids are school age having this positive effect?

2. How does the career level of the mother affect the outcome? Does it have to be a high-powered career, or is it working in general? I would guess that very few mothers stay at home permanently now, but I could be wrong. But are lower income jobs counted here?

3. How does a stay at home dad affect children of both sexes? Is it merely the fact that the household is less traditionally gendered that has the affect? How about 2 parents working part time?

almondcakes Thu 25-Jun-15 15:30:42

It does ring alarm bells for me that the article says the research shows a large difference between the daughters of SAHM and WOHM in the UK and the U.S., compared to more egalitarian countries.

I do not think it is neccesarily a positive thing that we are (yet again) showing very different outcomes for children based on family background compared to other countries.

Given that their differences to do with poverty and ethnicity in whether or not mothers work, I'd be interested to know if that is one of the causes of the different attitudes, or if a lot of it is down to attitudes and beliefs passed on by family, or opportunity? There's been a increase in African American mothers working due to not being able to afford to work, but also there is a religious and cultural element to being a SAHM (sometimes with home schooling) in the U.S.

I thought Rebecca Allen made really good points about policy and schools in the UK. Schools need to understand most mothers work now.

MrNoseybonk Thu 25-Jun-15 16:29:52

Every article the BBC runs based on a study, about any topic whatsoever, is full of clueless idiots dismissing the "so called study" without even reading it.
Yops is right - it's the internet.

GirlSailor Thu 25-Jun-15 17:02:21

I'm a little concerned that the research applies to middle class mothers with interesting careers, but will be seen as evidence that more work is always better. If both partners work in careers they earn a reasonable amount for, and are fulfilled by, it makes sense to both work full time and pay for childcare. Childcare is never going to be a comparable cost to their wages, and it's important for parents to be happy. If you're not happy looking after young children 24/7 then it makes sense to have childcare as you will be a better parent and the family benefits financially.

For lower income families, it is entirely possible that one non-working parent is better at home than in work, due to the cost and hassle of childcare, and the earning potential of the time away from family is much less. This is a valid choice, but it's often seen as the preserve of the rich.

Basically I'm annoyed that caring for your own children is seen as a privilege only the rich can expect, but low income families are attacked for not giving kids a stable routine if they work, or are scrounging if one of them isn't.

Initial thoughts on thread without having read all the links are that there are a lot of us in between F/T throughout childhood SAHM and WOHM ends of the spectrum.
Also as usual with research around parenting I hope they fully flagged up the difference between two things happening together and a causal relationship.
Something that comes immediately to mind is did they consider the IQ and educational level of the mothers and make allowance for this in their conclusions. Or are they merely noting the existence of co-existing phenomena without suggesting causality?
Taking account of confounding factors is I think how those involved in scientific and social research put it.

scallopsrgreat Thu 25-Jun-15 21:19:32

Agree with the last two posts.

Carrying on from GirlSailor mentioning income I'd say there was some correlation between these results and income too. Poverty could be a factor in the ability or not to break free from social norms/expectations/stereotypes such as women = domestic work man = out of home work/provider role.

gointothewoods Thu 25-Jun-15 21:25:40

The thing that stood out for me was that girls with mothers who worked outside the home earned 4% more than others in similar roles. Not exactly compelling numbers..

Preminstreltension Thu 25-Jun-15 21:26:46

I stopped reading comments in the Guardian when I read some vitriolic comment from men under an article about managing the menopause.

These people are weird and not very bright. But very cross. You would not engage with them in real life so no need to do so on the Internet. There are arseholes everywhere - these are today's arseholes.

OscarWinningActress Thu 25-Jun-15 22:37:01

How does houshold income factor in? I'm a SAHM daughter of a SAHM...we both have high-earning partners. You can see what I'm getting at wink.

AggressiveBunting Fri 26-Jun-15 02:16:22

Allen said that schools also need to adjust their demands on parents. �We�ve got to stop primary schools from having a day every week where parents are expected to dress up their children in some complicated outfit, or make something, or bring something in, or turn up to help with something or have an assembly,� she said.

I love this woman!!

rosabud Fri 26-Jun-15 06:57:23

Interesting post, Girlsailor, especially the distinction between higher and lower earning families. That was my situation when my children were younger, especially pre-school when the childcare bill would have been for the whole day - I simply would not have been earning enough to cover it. I often got "how lucky, you can afford it!" comments but the reality was no holidays/second hand clothes etc. However, I do think that children then pick up a "sense" of the type of family they are in and it affects their own outlook and what they aspire to - my own children often feel they are "not the sort of family" that can go abroad or whatever and it has lowered their own aspirations in a way. It pains me to acknowledge that, but it is true.

So maybe it's the fact that families where women work will tend to be more middle class/high earning families in the first place. As OscarWinning Actress suggests, it's a more complex situation of learned expectations and social mobility rahter than what one particular parent does or does not do.

Having said all that, agree with everyone else that comments sections are a no-go area!! Hope your blood pressure has recovered, OP!

Bellemere Fri 26-Jun-15 07:12:59

I read it and while I didn't think it was "irrelevent" I did think that it didn't tell the whole story. It tells you about the impact of having a working mother if you want to have a "successful career" (whatever that is - money?).

At what point should a mother go back to work? 6 weeks? 3 years? 11 years?
What impact does the mother going back to work have on the child's attachment, if the mother was the primary care giver? Is this affected by when she goes back to work?

Also, it feels like it implies that success is solely measured by career and money. Why is this? Is feminism not about choice? I purposely chose to be a SAHM and I have chosen a career that isn't well paid because it's something that I enjoy. If I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life, isn't that a success? I'd say it is.

Prettyinblue Fri 26-Jun-15 07:25:50

Interesting. It is a nice to know after all the reports of WOHM bashing that there is some good news stories. However I too like Bellemere don't measure life success up in economic and status terms. A lot of the most 'successful' career women I know aren't the happiest. Which to me is far more important.

The big bonus I see here is that sons of working mothers do more housework when older.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now