Nice piece on parenthood and management by Lucy Kellaway, debunking some of the myths and suggesting further areas for research, provoked by Will and Kate’s recent announcement:
As well as making managers more grasping, I can think of three other effects parenthood may have, none of them especially good. Again, there seem to be no studies to test any of them, which is a pity, especially if you consider the drearily obscure things that management academics spend their lives researching. First, being a parent probably makes people more risk-averse, more inclined to take the steady career path rather than the more interesting one. Second, it may also make us marginally less creative – the pram in the hall being the enemy of good art, and all that. Since Cyril Connolly raised the matter in the 1930s, I haven’t seen anyone put it to rest. Third, it makes you conflicted. You are endlessly divided over how to allocate time – and anxiety. This last effect could make you a better boss as work is also about conflict and managing time, and therefore parents have a head start. Or it could mean that you simply give your family priority and never have quite enough left over to do the job properly. I’ve seen both effects in operation; which is more common I would dearly like to know.
Either way, for the royal couple it doesn’t matter much. For them there is no conflict. If you are a hereditary monarch, having babies is the most important part of the job. Traditionally, monarchs have hoped for boys. Yet I have scientific reasons for hoping the child Kate is carrying is not a boy. The Danish study shows that bosses behave better when they have girls. They take a much lower rise for themselves (3 per cent as opposed to 6 per cent) and are inclined to be generous, especially to their female underlings.
I have noticed this effect too, and it doesn’t stop when the children grow up. Indeed, I’ve known male managers who have never been keen on promoting women suddenly become bigger feminists than Simone de Beauvoir the minute their daughters join the workforce.