A new study suggests fathers may have an easier time requesting work-life balance than mothers.
The finding is an exasperating twist in the debate about how to best support women who want both a flourishing career and family.
For years, advocates have argued that flexible workplace policies could reduce gender inequality both on the job and at home. But the new research, which is being presented Monday at an American Sociological Association conference, shows that deeply ingrained attitudes about motherhood may work against women hoping to balance a career and children.
The study, a survey of 660 adults across the U.S., found that women who asked to telecommute two days per week were seen as less committed, less respected and even less likable compared to male colleagues who made the same request. The margins by which respondents viewed women less favorably were not minor, either.
In the study, participants evaluated a scenario in which an employee asked for flextime or to telecommute for different reasons. Of those who reviewed both a man and woman’s request to telecommute in order to tend to tasks like picking a child up from a bus stop or daycare, 70% said they would be likely to grant the man’s request while only 57% would say yes to the woman.