The New Male Mystique

newmalemystiqueThe Families and Work Institute’s 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. Since that finding was released in 2009, it has generated a great deal of attention and speculation. This paper 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. In essence, we have uncovered what we term the “new male mystique.” We find that although men live in a society where gender roles have become more egalitarian and where women contribute increasingly to family economic well-being, men have retained the “traditional male mystique”—the pressure to be the primary financial providers for their families. As such, men who are fathers work longer hours than men the same age who don’t live with a child under 18. However, men are also much more involved in their home lives than men in the past, spending more time with their children and contributing more to the work of caring for their homes and families. In other words, 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.” We term this the new male mystique.

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