Danna Greenberg: Maternal Optimism
Danna Greenberg is the Walter H. Carpenter Professor of Organizational Behavior at Babson College. Her main area of research focuses on understanding the intersection between individuals' work and non-work lives as they move through their career. Her scholarship is guided by the belief that individuals can and should be able to live full lives at work and at home and that by challenging current assumptions regarding work we can find better ways for businesses, families, and communities to thrive.
Her other research stream centers on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Here she is focused on the continued changing landscape of higher education as it pertains to how we teach, what we teach, and how to define the lives of academics. Danna has published more than 30 articles and book chapters in leading journals including Academy of Management Journal, Human Resource Management, and Academy of Management Learning and Education. She is the co-author with Jamie Ladge of Maternal Optimism: Forging Positive Paths Through Work and Motherhood*.
When women return to work after a baby, there’s a lot our society implies about how that’s supposed to look. Danna’s research finds that this can look very different for every family. On this episode, a few things that women, their partners, and their managers can do to support a better transition in returning to work.
- Over 70% of mothers in the United States return to work after having children.
- There tends to be a “guilt and anguish” script in the popular media about women returning to work after a maternity leave. That’s absolutely true for some women (especially those with fewer resources) but other women have very different experiences.
- Managers can help by opening dialogue about what’s ideal to support a woman and her family during and after maternity leave.
- Comments like “I am so impressed by how you are going to do it all!” are often well-intended but can reinforce views that might not be true for a woman or her family. Focus praise at work on work, not parenting.
- Men may be more likely to listen to the challenges working mother face when other men surface them. Male managers can take the lead on this.
- During leave, mothers can help create a foundation of shared parenting (if that’s their choice) by engaging their partners in substantial ways in childcare and limit gatekeeping.
- Maternal Optimism: Forging Positive Paths Through Work and Motherhood* by Jamie Ladge and Danna Greenberg
Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required).
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- Finding Joy Through Intentional Choices, with Bonni Stachowiak (episode 417)
- How to Create Inclusive Hiring Practices, with Ruchika Tulshyan (episode 589)