-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Aug. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Women seeking a better
work-life balance are less likely than men to be viewed positively
by their colleagues, a new study finds.
"These results demonstrate how cultural notions of parenting influence perceptions of people who request flexible work," said study author Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.
Researchers asked nearly 650 people, aged 18 to 65, to read
transcripts of what they were told were conversations between a
human resources official and an employee. Some of the employees
requested a flexible work arrangement.
These arrangements included asking to work at home in some
cases, or to come in early and leave early three days a week in
order to care for their children. After reading the transcripts,
the participants were asked how likely they were to grant the
request and also to evaluate the employee.
When employees asked to work from home for childcare-related
reasons, nearly 70 percent of participants said they would be "very
likely" or "likely" to approve the request if it was made by a man.
But only about 57 percent said they would grant the request when
made by a woman.
In these cases, 24 percent of participants said men who made
such a request were "extremely likeable," while only 3 percent of
participants said women who made such a request were "extremely
About 15 percent of participants said women who made such a
request were "not at all" or "not very" committed to their jobs,
while only about 3 percent of participants said the same about men
who made such a request.
The study was scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual
meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
"Today, we think of women's responsibilities as including paid labor and domestic obligations, but we still regard breadwinning as men's primary responsibility and we feel grateful if men contribute in the realm of childcare or to other household tasks," Munsch said in an association news release.
The study also found that both women and men who requested
greater work flexibility for childcare-related reasons were viewed
more favorably than those who made such requests for other reasons,
such as reducing their commute time.
The University of Southern California Center for Work &
Family Life has more about
family and work balance.
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