Work-Family Balance Is Important To Both Genders, But It Comes Harder To Women

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In a new survey of 1,023 professionals by Citi and Linkedin, balancing work life with family life is “the number one career concern” for both men and women, with about half of both genders saying it is a major concern. Yet on a variety of indicators, women seem more concerned about actually achieving it.

While men and women rank good healthcare benefits as the most important perk in any job, women were far more likely to value flexible scheduling or the ability to work from home (90 percent of women versus 72 percent of men) and good maternity or paternity leave policies (56 percent versus 36 percent), both of which can be important to balancing home life with a job. And while both genders say they deal with more stress at work than at home, women experience more stress than men in both.

As Amanda Hess points out at Slate, the men in the survey were also far more likely than the women to put a high importance on family life in determining success. Nearly 80 percent of men include marriage in their idea of “having it all” while just two-thirds of women do, 86 percent of men include children versus 73 percent of women, and the proportion of women who don’t prioritize relationships in order to be successful jumped to 9 percent from 5 a year ago. “When it comes to ‘having it all,’ men want more,” Hess writes, and it seems that women are already factoring in trade offs when measuring success.

The survey also reports that women are more stressed out over finances than men, with more rating their ability to pay off credit card debt or student loans as a big concern. They are also more concerned about getting a raise, and given the gender wage gap, this isn’t surprising. In a different survey, 31 percent of women said they thought they would be paid more if they were a man, and in yet another 15 percent reported being passed over for a promotion or opportunity because of their gender.

The competing demands in the home and the office have increased for both genders, with a different survey showing that half of working mothers and fathers find it difficult to balance them. The country does a poor job making it easier, ranking ninth-to-last out of 34 developed countries on work/life balance thanks to longer than average work hours and less time devoted to leisure and personal care. It is outranked by 21 other developed countries when it comes to guaranteeing paid maternity leave (it doesn’t guarantee any, unlike at least 174 other countries), protecting workers’ right to ask for a different work schedule (it doesn’t provide any guarantee, although San Francisco and Vermont now do), and the share of GDP spent on childcare support, which costs more than median rent for an infant and four-year-old.

This imbalance ends up affecting women more than men, who are still thought of as the default caretakers. While more than 20 percent of women are out of the workforce and taking care of children full time, just 0.8 percent of men are. Mothers are more likely than their partners to rearrange their work schedules to account for children. Working mothers spend double the time that fathers do on raising children and they end up putting in half the hours that men do in paid employment.