“Work-family conflict” is defined as how much each interferes with the other. The FWI compared mothers and fathers in dual-earner households in 1977 and 2008. The percentage of mothers reporting work-family conflict remained statistically the same (41% in 1977; 47% in 2008)over the 31 years while the percentage of fathers increased dramatically from 35% to 60%.
The authors sought to explain the change and the imbalance between mothers and fathers. What they found was what they call the “new male mystique.” That’s obviously a nod to Betty Friedan, but in this case the term means “traditional views about men’s role as breadwinners in combination with emerging gender role values that encourage men to participate in family life and a workplace that does not fully support these new roles have created pressure for men to, essentially, do it all in order to have it all.”
In other words, men still view themselves as primarily breadwinners, but have taken on the additional role of father as well. Those two things combined with employers who aren’t inclined to accommodate fathering activities make for conflict. How can a dad work and earn as much as he feels he needs to and still spend enough time with his kids?
[...]Increasing job demands, the blurring of boundaries between work and home life, declining job security and flat earnings have made it more challenging for men to live up to the new male mystique, thereby contributing to an increased probability of work-family conflict.
[...]Our data show that there is no statistically significant difference between men and women on these views—40% of men and 37% of women somewhat or strongly agree with traditional attitudes about gender role values.
[...]Fathers want to work fewer hours were asked in this study why they don’t reduce their work hours. We find:
• 47% say they need the money they earn by working long hours, whether or not their spouse earns more money than they do.
• 16% say they could not keep their jobs if they worked fewer hours.
• 14% say they need to work long hours to keep up with the demands of their job.
[..]So why is it that 60% of fathers but only 47% of mothers report significant levels of work-family conflict?
I think the answer is obvious - mothers work less than men when they work and are more likely than fathers to not do paid work. The authors are clear on their finding that it is specifically work, not family, that is the cause of work-family conflict. So it stands to reason that the parent who works less experiences less work-family conflict.
In fact, among fathers, those who work more have more conflict than those who work less, so it’s not surprising that the same is true of mothers.
Pretty interesting. The conclusion was spot on:
The lesson seems clear. We can try to wheedle employers into being more flexible, but that’s unlikely to make much of an impact on employer behavior. But what we can do, individual couple by individual couple, is to even out the work and the childcare between fathers and mothers. That way the work-family conflict will be evened out as well.