Working mothers still face a number of barriers in the workplace that fathers and childless workers don’t have to deal with. That may not make any sense, because a new study finds being a mother makes them better employees.
Nearly 60 percent of employers say that mothers make better team players, according to research carried out for Microsoft that surveyed 500 employers and 2,000 women. More than a third say their employees’ multitasking skills improved after they gave birth.
The mothers themselves also report these improvements. Nearly two-thirds of working mothers say they got better at multitasking after they had kids, and nearly half said their time management skills improved. More than a quarter became more organized.
Their partners don’t seem to get the benefits necessarily, however. A quarter of working mothers said they are twice as productive than their husbands or boyfriends. That stems from the fact that about a third use technology to get an extra hour of work done, with nearly a quarter finding an extra two hours.
Yet they have to be good multitaskers, because today’s mothers spend more time on childcare than those of the 1960s and more than 80 percent do household tasks on a given day, compared to 65 percent of men, and spend more time on the tasks than men do. And they get less time to themselves: Each additional child will reduce a woman’s free time by 2.3 hours a week, but it only takes 1.7 hours away from a man. No wonder fathers find three extra hours of leisure time.
The increase in skills may make working mothers more attractive employees, but they still face bias in the workplace. An influential 2005 study found that when participants looked at applications from identical resumes that only differed by parental status, mothers were “rated as less competent, less committed, less suitable for hire, promotion, and management training, and deserving of lower salaries,” the researchers noted. They were given a starting salary that was $11,000 lower than non-mothers. They were also held to higher standards. Fathers, on the other hand, actually benefitted from being parents.
Other studies have found mothers are docked about 5 percent per child from their wages. In fact, women with children under the age of 18 make $17 less each week at the median than childless women, but fathers actually see a $147 boost.