By Dan Cook
The initiative launched decades ago by women seeking gender equality in the workplace has clearly made big-picture gains. But the (male) devil is in the details of workplace gender equality.
Research continues to show that males enjoy many workplace perks that are less available to females. Location and time scheduling flexibility are areas where men still prevail.
In May, a study of telecommuting trends revealed that more men are able to telecommute than women. Now comes data from Furman University that suggests a subtle bias in favor of men when it comes to requesting the option to work from home to take care of children.
“Women seeking a better work-life balance are less likely than men to be viewed positively by their colleagues,” is the conclusion of the researchers at Furman.
The study was designed to gather respondent impressions of requests made by men and women of the supervisors about altering their schedules so that they could participate more fully in child care. Because these 650 respondents, aged 18 to 65, read “transcripts of what they were told were conversations between a human resources official and an employee,” in a sense, the readers supplied the tone of the requesters.
After reading the transcripts, the respondents were asked how likely they were to grant the request. Additionally, researchers asked them to evaluate the employee.
The stark outcome: The readers leaned more toward granting the male requests (70 percent of the time), and less in favor of the women who requested the same flexibility (57 percent). They also ranked the men higher on a “likeable” scale: they found the men “extremely likeably” 24 percent of the time, the women a mere 3 percent of the time.
Respondents also showed a bias toward men when asked if such requests showed a lack of commitment to work. “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 researchers reported.
“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,” said study author Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at Furman. “These results demonstrate how cultural notions of parenting influence perceptions of people who request flexible work.”
Also read: The surprising big winner when men take paternity leave
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com