Men More Likely to Be Granted Flexible Work Arrangements

Father works from home and boy works on homeworkWomen continue to make only 70 or 80 cents for every $1 men earn, even when controlling for factors such as hours worked and other career choices. Common cultural assumptions hold that women are more committed to work-life balance than men and are more likely to adjust their work schedules and take time off to raise their children, as needed. A new study, though, has found that men are more likely to receive flexible work arrangement requests to spend time with family than women, and that men who make flex time requests for the benefit of their families are perceived more favorably than women who do the same.

Gender Inequality in Approving Flexible Work Requests

The study evaluated 646 requests for flexible work arrangements, such as working from home two days each week or arriving and leaving early three days each week. Study participants were asked to read a transcript in which an employee made a flexible work request and determine whether they would accept or deny the request. Researchers varied the gender of the person making the request as well as the nature of the request—whether the request was related to childcare or not.

Of the flexible work requests made with childcare in mind, 70% of study participants claimed they would grant the requests made by men, but only 57% of requests by women were likely to be approved. The difference can’t be explained by difference in communication style or the reason for the request, since researchers provided identical transcripts. The only difference between the requests was the gender of the person making the request.

Perceptions of Employee Commitment Differ Based on Gender

Men weren’t just more likely to have their requests approved; they were also perceived more favorably for asking. Twenty-four percent of participants viewed the men who made requests for flex time to care for children as “extremely likable,” compared to only 3% for women. Similarly, 15% of study participants saw women who requested flex time as “not very” or “not at all” committed to their jobs, compared to nearly 3% for men.

The data shed light on how everyday choices that don’t harm men can undermine women. Work-life balance is an ongoing challenge for both men and women, but workplace culture may make achieving such balance more difficult for women.

Interestingly, those requests that were made for non-childcare reasons were less likely to be approved than those requests based on childcare needs. Just over 40% of study participants said they would grant the childless employee’s request for a flexible work schedule, compared with nearly 64% who would be likely to approve the requests made by parents.

References:

  1. Co-workers take dim view of women who seek flex time: Study. (2014, August 18). Retrieved from http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/parenting-health-news-525/co-workers-take-dim-view-of-women-seeking-flex-time-690746.html
  2. Miller, C. C. (2014, April 23). Pay gap is because of gender, not jobs. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/upshot/the-pay-gap-is-because-of-gender-not-jobs.html?abt=0002&abg=0
  3. Men viewed more favorably than women when seeking work-life balance. (2014, August 18). Retrieved from http://phys.org/news/2014-08-men-viewed-favorably-women-work-life.html

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  • joEllen

    joEllen

    August 20th, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    aarrgghh just goes to show that women still are not be treated equally to men in the workplace and professional arena!

  • Jeff D.

    Jeff D.

    August 20th, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I still think that there are employers who would think that a man would do more from home because there wouldn’t be that interference form kids that they could perceive that a mother would have. I think that this is so wrong and I feel a lot of empathy for the females who are not getitng the same kind of flex time that apparently men can get. I agree that it could have been what was said but since they were all given the same script to read from that seems pretty unlikely. Something in the men was either way more convincing or employers are naturally more biased against females than they are against men.

  • Aimee

    Aimee

    August 21st, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    I do not at all understand the reasoning behind this unless the company that you work for is simply just biased against women, working mothers and their own unique and special needs. I know that it does not work for everyone in every job position out there but there are plenty of professional jobs that should allow for more flexible scheduling and being in the office. There are days when I know that I could do most of my work from home, and I would, but there is no flexibility with my bosses whatsoever- they want to see us in the office every single day. So be it, I don’t really need the flex time but there are others who do and they always get told no no matter how good their case is for working from home.

  • emmalyn

    emmalyn

    August 21st, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Even worse, I think that once you make a request like this, it is as if you have this black mark on your record and employers might think that you will never be as reliable as another person would be.

  • Camille

    Camille

    August 23rd, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    This is so backwards!

    This is something that women have been fighting for for a very long time and now it is actually working against them to even think to ask.

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