Efficient and can-do: Why moms make the best employees

Author & Founder of The Fifth Trimester Consulting
Taking care of children gives working mothers an ability to be more efficient with their time and commitments, says Lauren Smith Brody. She is the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement and a best-selling author of books on motherhood and cultural anthropology.
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TRANSCRIPT

There is something called the “motherhood penalty” and essentially it shows that a mother’s earnings dramatically decrease after having one baby. They continue to decrease after two and three and four.

When you look at fathers and you look at those same charts they’re barely impacted in terms of their pay. Some of this is tied really directly with just generally the pay gap between men and women in the United States.

The irony, of course, is that when you look at who actually performs well at work, women come back to work more capable than they were before they left in many, many cases. So they are, they have an end, a hard end stop to their day, right? But this actually makes them more efficient. If they have been home at leave, if they’ve been home with a baby on leave that baby has been the toughest drill sergeant boss you will ever have in your life, and has taught them to pivot between tasks without really any transition time between. You know, baby needs one thing, baby needs the next thing, you go, you go, you go, you do.

And that directly translates, it’s been shown by women when they come back to work they don’t need transition time between tasks.

So you hear a lot of women say like “Oh, I’m more efficient because my day is shorter.”

Well actually they’re more efficient because they don’t need that kind of transition time between tasks.

They compress things and they do things really efficiently—like actually the real definition of efficient.

Women also sometimes like to say – and I think sometimes we undersell ourselves—They say “Oh, after parenthood I am much better at saying no to things.”

And that is true and that is valid. But I also ask the women who I speak to to turn that around as well: So yes, you’re better at saying no to things that don’t matter, that aren’t going to ultimately benefit your company, benefit your life, help move you along in your career. Fine. However, when a new working mom says yes to something—whether it is going out with some colleagues for a networking drink after work or it is going for a big promotion or taking on a big new client—when a new working mom says yes to something she has done that compromise already, that “compromise math” is what I call it in her head to figure out: “How am I going to make this work? What am I going to steal time away from so that I can say yes to this?” so that by the time she gets to yes it’s an incredibly strong, incredibly real dedicated yes.

And I think that so much of the way we present ourselves coming back to work requires an internalization and an understanding of our strengths and of what we can contribute to the workplace.