Wolfram and colleague Jane Leber Herr, Ph.D., UC Berkeley's Department of Economics looked at the Harvard College reunion surveys for the 1988 to 1991 graduating classes. The women surveyed were approximately 37 years-old and had at least one child.
They found that fifteen years after graduating from Harvard College, 28 percent of the women who went on to get MBAs were stay-at-home moms, while only 6 percent of MDs stopped working outside of the home.
Of the MBAs surveyed, 27 percent had careers in the financial sector and 17 percent worked in consulting. The majority of the MDs worked in specialties centered on women with 13 percent in obstetrics/gynaecology, 31 percent in pediatric medicine, and family.
Wolfram hypothesizes that work environment plays a key role in determining career longevity. Doctors, for example, often work in private practices and may be able to work part-time more easily than women in other fields. On the other hand, businesswomen more commonly adhere to the corporate dictate of long hours and heavy travel.
The research also found that 79 percent of attorney moms surveyed continue working after having children.
While other surveys have found that lawyers surveyed were no more satisfied with their jobs than businesswomen, this study shows that lawyers do appear to have more family-friendly alternatives available.
JD mothers who remained in the labour force were more likely to switch careers while MBA moms were twice as likely to merely quit.