Raising children gives women an edge at work

Contrary to popular belief that working mothers tend to lose out to their female colleagues who are single, women with children actually do have an edge at work.

This comes in the form of the people skills they pick up while raising children, which can be useful when managing people at the workplace, a new United States study has found.

A poll of female professionals last month by Los Angeles- based talent-management firm The Korn/Ferry Institute found that 95 per cent of respondents believe raising kids has equipped them with unique skills portable to the workplace.

These include skills related to motivating and inspiring others, as well as learning agility - the ability to apply past experience in new ways. Working mothers are also more confident when dealing with people.

"The findings show that parenthood offers a world of training in psychology, time management and diplomacy that can easily be applied to business," said Ms Kathy Woods, senior partner at Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, who is a mother.

Indeed, Mrs Pamela Tan, an asset manager at a real-estate firm in Singapore, finds that she has become a better boss since becoming a mother.

Mrs Tan, 33, has a five-year-old son and two-year-old fraternal twins, a boy and a girl.

She told my paper: "Managing your (work) team is sort of like looking after your children, you need to take care of them and supervise them."

In fact, she had performed so well in her previous job that she was promoted after she had her twins in 2010.

Human-resource experts here feel that working mothers do have a certain edge at work.

Said Ms Anna Clark Hall, director of staffing at HR firm Randstad: "A mother will likely be well-versed in dealing with conflicting demands, juggling tasks and managing schedules - all skills which are beneficial in any workplace."

Said Ms Rebecca Lewis, editor of Human Resources magazine: "I think it's great that working mothers have pinpointed how their parenting skills can be related to their daily work tasks and managing people.

"This recognition of transferable skills is part of defining themselves as high-potential employees."

gerrardl@sph.com.sg


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