By Sherkiya Wedgeworth

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Flex work not created equal

You probably know that women make 78 cents to every one dollar a man makes, and that American workers prefer to have a male as their boss rather a than a female. And you may even know that more women are deciding to stay out of the workplace altogether to care for children at home. But we'll bet you haven't heard of the workplace “fatherhood bonus.”

Furman University sociology professor Christin Munsch's research, “Flexible Work, Flexible Penalties: The Effect of Gender, Childcare, and Type of Request on the Flexibility Bias,” found that men have it easier than women when requesting work-life balance to care for children.

Munsch had 646 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 65, read a scenario in which an employee was requesting to work a modified work schedule for various reasons, including to accommodate childcare, and found that when a man requested to work from home for childcare-related reasons, 69.7 percent said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to approve the request, compared with 56.7 percent of those who read the scenario in which a woman made the same request.

About 15 percent of participants also said that women who made the flexible work schedule request were "not at all" or "not very" committed to their jobs, while only about 3 percent of participants felt the same about men.

“These results demonstrate how cultural notions of parenting influence perceptions of people who request flexible work,” Munsch said in a statement. “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.”

She said that employers should be cognizant of their biases and the ways in which they “differentially assess people who use these policies, so as not to perpetuate inequality.”

Posted by Sherkiya Wedgeworth on Oct 30, 2014 at 7:17 AM

Reader comments

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

I get so tired of reading this type of stuff and thinking of the money wasted in payment for the study. We have known this for how long? How about instead of telling us the same old thing, and making someone pay for it to be told again, this time the study provides evidence of what can be done to stop the historical ignorance that is repeatedly demonstrated?

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