Mothers, a new study opines, leave a much stronger impact on children's educational performance than fathers.
Maternal influence has been found to be the leading factor over whether children stayed on at school and went on to study at university and to social mobility within the family.
The link was strongest between mothers and daughters although there was still a distinct link between mothers and sons.
"It seems the mother-daughter relationship is now the transmission mechanism for social mobility. It used to be said that the father was the breadwinner and that would dictate household education decisions," the Telegraph quoted Ian Walker, one of the study's authors, as saying.
"If the father was richer you could afford to stay on at school rather than go out to earn a living. That is clearly no longer the case," he said.
The study looked at 43,000 teenagers questioned between 1993 and 2006 and compared their educational paths with that of their parents.
Researchers found that for every year a woman stayed in full-time education, the likelihood of her daughter also staying for an extra year increased by 20 per cent.
The chances of sons staying on for each extra year increased by 10 per cent. There was no consistent effect to be found regarding fathers who stayed on in education and their children.
Experts said that the change was due to greater gender equality and with mothers becoming stronger academic role models for their children, particularly their daughters.