Guess What? Companies Like Men Who Try to Balance Work/Life Better Than Women

Doesn't it just make you want to laugh (or cry)?  A new study has found that men who try to balance their work/home lives are viewed more favorably than women.

Say what?

According to, while some suggest that flexible work arrangements have the potential to reduce workplace inequality, a new study finds these arrangements may exacerbate discrimination based on parental status and gender.

Among those who made flexible work requests, men who asked to work from home two days a week in order to care for a child were significantly advantaged compared to women who made the same request. Study author Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at Furman University, also found that both men and women who made flexible work requests for childcare-related reasons were advantaged compared to those who made the same requests for other reasons. 

For her study, Munsch used a sample of 646 people who ranged in age from 18 to 65 and resided in the U.S. Participants were shown a transcript and told it was an actual conversation between a human resources representative and an employee. The employee either requested a flexible work arrangement or did not.

Among those who requested a flexible work arrangement, the employee either asked to come in early and leave early three days a week, or asked to work from home two days a week. Munsch also varied the gender of the employee and the reason for the request (involving childcare or not). After reading their transcript, participants were asked how likely they would be to grant the request and also to evaluate the employee on several measures, including how likeable, committed, dependable, and dedicated they found him or her.

Among those who read the scenario in which 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 to 56.7 percent of those who read the scenario in which a woman made the request. Almost a quarter — 24.3 percent — found the man to be “extremely likeable,” compared to only 3 percent who found the woman to be “extremely likeable.”

 And, only 2.7 percent found the man “not at all” or “not very” committed, yet 15.5 percent found the woman “not at all” or “not very” committed.

“These results demonstrate how cultural notions of parenting influence perceptions of people who request flexible work,” Munsch said at “Today, we think of women’s responsibilities as including paid labor and domestic obligations, but we still regard bread-winning as men’s primary responsibility and we feel grateful if men contribute in the realm of childcare or to other household tasks.”

I've felt this discrimination, too, though it might have been directed at a man, too, if he had requested, as I did, at two recent job interviews, that I be allowed to work from home at least one day a week, to be available to my middle schooler, both of whose parents would then be working out of state.  Didn't get the jobs.

I suppose it would have made more sense to have requested this after I got the job.  But looking at this study, it seems probable I would have bombed, out no matter what!


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