Throughout history women have been regarded as the weaker gender, both physically and intellectually. As a result women’s roles tended to center around the home and raising children. Over time women have gradually entered the workforce and have gained increasingly prestigious positions. With more women currently in the workforce than ever before, fewer children are being raised by stay-at-home mothers and more are spending prolonged hours at childcare facilities. This exploratory study analyzed the cognitive and behavioral effects on children, in small Midwestern communities, that result from having mothers in the workforce during children’s early developmental years.
Seventy-one percent of American mothers with children under the age of eighteen are in the labor force, meaning that they are either employed or are seeking employment (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2007). Not only are more mothers entering the workforce than ever before, but mothers are working longer hours. More hours spent on the job means fewer hours spent with children. This may lead to several cognitive and behavioral implications for children.
Children with working mothers are usually placed in group childcare, which results in them receiving less one-on-one attention and instruction. This may have significant cognitive effects later in childhood. Behavioral effects may also arise. A longitudinal study completed in 2001 found significant cognitive differences between children who had working mothers and children who had stay-at-home mothers. The study examined the effect of maternal employment early in a child’s life on the child’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes during elementary school.