Science says women are better at their jobs after becoming moms
In the months after having a baby, you’re totally exhausted. It’s a huge change in every single way and at times, it might feel like you’re not exactly nailing it in life. However, when it comes to heading back to work after becoming a mom, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dr. Pilyoung Kim, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver tells The Cut that new moms are anything but scattered and inefficient. In studying the brains of women in the months after they’ve had children, they found that there’s actually growth. “We observed significant structural growth in several brain regions, including the midbrain region, which plays an important role in developing what we call ‘maternal instinct,’ and the prefrontal cortex region, which is involved in decision making, learning, and regulating our feeling and thoughts, over the first three to four months of motherhood,” she explains.
Amy Henderson of Tendlab performed research on this exact topic — how new moms fare once they return to work. What she found over the course of 150 interviews with moms who had returned to work totally backs up the science bits.
“First, the majority of the moms I spoke with realized, while they were talking to me, that they were performing better in their careers because of their kids, not in spite of them. Before our conversation, however, most of these women had been too inundated with negative messaging to even consider the possibility that motherhood might have had a positive impact on their careers,” she says.
Henderson also found in talking to new moms that becoming a parent made women feel braver in the workplace. “Since becoming a mom, I no longer tolerate when a coder does a half-ass job and then fights when I tell him that I’m not going to merge his code into the system,” a senior level computer programmer at a tech company told her. “Before, I would hesitate and worry about it escalating into a team conflict. Now, I’m not afraid to take a stand and say no.”
She also interviewed Amy Pressman, a mom of three who founded a 1000-employee company with her husband. Pressman explains how dealing with motherhood has better equipped her to deal with pretty much anything — and anyone. “You can’t fire your kids, so you must grow and evolve as a person to adapt to their needs and wants,” she shares. “As a result, parenthood has increased my capacity to nurture the best in others, a skill I strive to integrate into our company.”
I noticed a lot of what these researchers point out after I went back to work post-baby. Once I had kids, I no longer enjoyed the luxury of taking my time with… well, with anything. Efficiency became the goal as I rushed to accomplish all I had to do in a day while dealing with the intense needs of my children. I stayed at home until my youngest was a toddler and by the time I went back to work, I didn’t need science to tell me I’d be a better employee — I knew I would.
Becoming a mom means learning to cut through the noise and the bullshit. It means using up the 40 minutes where both kids are napping at the same time to start laundry, do dishes, catch up on bills, get the mail, give the dog some attention, and maybe even take a shower. It means working in a constantly chaotic environment where the ability to focus is almost never a guarantee, and yet, the stakes have never been higher. On barely any sleep, after nursing around the clock all night, I had to get up the next morning and keep two small humans alive. Managing my new boss’ incredibly demanding calendar seemed like a complete walk in the park after that.
So the next time anyone suggests that having a baby made you less able to kick ass at work, please let them know how wrong they are. The reality is, you’ve never been more on top of your game.