Mothers who earned straight A’s in high school manage the same number of employees as fathers who got failing grades

According to our peer-reviewed new study, mothers who excelled in school are given the same opportunities for leadership as fathers with the lowest grades. In their early to mid-career, mothers with straight A’s oversee a similar amount of employees as do men with F’s.

In order to reach these conclusions, we used the U.S. Since 1979, a national survey has been tracking a group born between 1957 and 1964. Researchers gathered high school transcripts from 5,000 participants and compared them with responses from career-focused questionnaires taken between 1988 and 1998, a time when many of the participants were in their 30s.

Our results show that men are more likely to manage employees than women, regardless of GPA. The leadership gap between women and men was relatively constant for participants without children. Men worked about two to three employees more on average.

We found what we discovered when we only focused on parents most interesting. Fathers with GPAs of 4.0 reported that they were responsible for an average of 19, compared to 10 for men without children with the same grades and five for fathers who had a GPA below 1.0. The best-performing mothers, on the other hand, managed less than five people. This compares to seven childless women who had the highest GPAs and three mothers with the lowest grades.

In other words, being a father increases the leadership opportunities of men but decreases them for women. The same was true for obtaining a college degree or an advanced degree, which helped fathers but did little for mothers. Another study shows that men are more likely to reach leadership positions in a variety of occupations. This includes traditionally feminine fields like human resources or health care.

Why it matters

Recent research on economics has revealed ” Lost Einsteins,” i.e., the smartest students who come from poor backgrounds but never become inventors. This is because they do not receive the same benefits and support as even the lowest-achieving children from wealthy families.

It is the same for women whose talents have been underutilized in corporate America. Even the brightest and most talented women are disadvantaged in their leadership opportunities due to gender-related obstacles, particularly if they become mothers.

The problem is not motherhood or dadhood. Previous research has shown that it is more about the way society views fathers and mothers and associated stereotypes that contribute to gendered results. For example, fathers may be given more opportunities for leadership because employers believe that they are better suited to positions requiring authority, long hours, and travel. Employers may falsely think that mothers are less competent or committed.

Employers can help to overcome this issue by reviewing their evaluation practices and adopting more fair promotion practices that will recognize women’s talents. Paid Leave, Subsidized Child Care, and other family-friendly policies could help.

What is still unknown

We do not yet know how the results of our study will translate to younger groups such as millennials. We believe that given the fact that progress towards equality in the workplace has slowed or even stagnated in certain measures over the past decades, it is likely that leadership prospects for academically gifted females have not improved much.

What’s Next

COVID-19 is a pandemic that has affected women’s productivity and employment more than men, especially among parents, due to a lack of childcare. We will conduct further research to understand the impact of the pandemic on women’s opportunities for leadership.