New Report Explores the Sources of Increasing Pressures Men Face to Succeed at Work and at Home and Potential Solutions for Reducing These Pressures

June 30, 2011

New Report Explores the Sources of Increasing Pressures Men Face to
Succeed at Work and at Home and Potential Solutions for Reducing These Pressures

NEW YORK, NY— Families and Work Institute’s (FWI) most recent National Study of the Changing Workforce, a nationally representative study of the U.S. workforce, finds that men now experience more work-family conflict than women. This is especially true among fathers in dual-earner couples whose level of stress has risen from 35% in 1977 to 60% in 2008. Since that finding was released, it has generated a great deal of attention and speculation.

A report released today by FWI, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the IBM Corporation, The New Male Mystique, is the first to take the same data set and conduct an in-depth exploration of the underlying reasons behind men’s rising work-family conflict.

Key findings include:

    • Spending more time at work significantly increases the potential for work-family conflict. Among men who work 50 or more hours per week, 60% report experiencing some or a lot of conflict, compared to men who work 40-49 hours a week, 39% of whom experience conflict. In fact, the amount of time men spend working is more important in predicting their work-family conflict than the time men spend on child care, chores, and leisure.

 

    • Men who work in demanding jobs are more likely to experience more work-family conflict (61%) than men whose jobs are moderately demanding (44%)

 

    • Fathers in dual-earner couples are more likely to experience conflict as well. Interestingly, these fathers work three hours more per week than men their ages without children.

 

  • Many fathers would prefer to work less, but they work long hours to earn money for their families.

The “ideal” man today is not only a good employee working long hours to be a successful breadwinner, but is also an involved and nurturing husband/partner, father, and son. Ellen Galinsky, an author of the report and the president of Families and Work Institute says, “men are experiencing what women experienced when they first entered the workforce in record numbers—the pressure to ‘do it all in order to have it all.’ This is the essence of the new male mystique.”

The lead author of the report, Kerstin Aumann, Senior Research Associate at Families and Work Institute, says, “For some men—those with work-centric or strong traditional values—the world has changed too much, while for others—especially those with family responsibilities—the world has not yet changed enough.”

To investigate the factors that reduce the probability of experiencing work-family conflict, the researchers turned to the men who reported having little or no conflict.

Key findings about the predictors that reduce work-family conflict in men include:

    • Men in the “at risk” groups (work more than 50 hours a week, have high levels of job demands, are work-centric or are fathers living in dual-earner couples) benefit from having supportive supervisors and coworkers as well as a culture that supports the use of flexibility.

 

  • High access to specific types of flexibility—such as a work schedule that meets their needs, being able to take time off during the work day to attend to personal or family issues, and receiving at least 5 paid days off per year to care for a sick child—is especially important for the men who are most likely to experience work-family conflict.

Kenneth Matos, Senior Research Associate at Families and Work Institute and an author of the report says, “to truly improve men’s lives at work and at home, change needs to occur at all levels—from individual attitudes about work and family to effective workplace design and cultural change that dispels the mystiques for both men and women.”

This report is available as a PDF download at http://familiesandwork.org/site/research/reports/newmalemystique.pdf.

 

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ABOUT FAMILIES AND WORK INSTITUTE

Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies the changing workforce, family and community. As a preeminent think tank, FWI is known for being ahead of the curve, identifying emerging issues, and then conducting rigorous research that often challenges common wisdom and provides insight and knowledge. As an action tank, FWI conducts numerous studies that put its research into action and then evaluates the results. Its purpose is to create research to live by. For mh2re information, see http://www.familiesandwork.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL STUDY OF THE CHANGING WORKFORCE (NSCW)

The NSCW is the largest and most comprehensive study in the United States on employees’ life on and off the job. The 2008 NSCW gathered data from a nationally representative sample of employed people using a random digit dial procedure. Harris Interactive, Inc conducted interviews. The sample was adjusted to reflect (i.e., weighted to) 2007 U.S. Bureau of the Census statistics for the total U.S. population to adjust for any sampling bias that might have occurred. The response rate was calculated by applying the conservative method of calculation recommended by the American Association for Public Opinion Research. In 2008, the response rate was 54.6%. The completion rate was 99%. The estimated maximum sampling error for the total sample is approximately +/- 1%.

The sample for this report consists of 1,298 men who live with at least one family member (e.g., spouse/partner, child under 18 or other relative) and be employed in a wage or salaried job.

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