Contrary to conventional wisdom, growing up with a working mother is unlikely to harm children socially and economically when they become adults, new research by a Harvard Business School professor concludes.

The “working mother effect” actually improves future prospects, especially for adult daughters of mothers who worked outside the home before their daughters were 14 years old, according to recent findings based on a comprehensive survey of 50,000 adults aged 18 to 60 in 25 nations worldwide in 2002 and 2012.

The research, which provides the basis for two forthcoming academic papers, is one of a number of projects led by faculty affiliated with Harvard Business School’s new Gender Initiative. The Gender Initiative, announced today, seeks to further research, education, and knowledge dissemination on issues related to gender and work. To find out more about the initiative: Harvard Business School Launches Gender Initiative.

The working mother study, authored by Harvard Business School Professor Kathleen McGinn, HBS researcher Mayra Ruiz Castro, and Elizabeth Long Lingo of Mt. Holyoke College, found that women with working mothers performed better in the workplace, earning more and possessing more powerful positions than their peers with stay-at-home mothers.

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