Women and Work-Life Balance

Shortly after Marissa Mayer’s appointment this week as CEO of Yahoo, news of her pregnancy opened a new chapter in the work-life debate. Today, we offer context with perspectives on gender roles, women in leadership, and work-family balance. We hope you’ll find this selection interesting and useful.

Gary N. Powell of the University of Connecticut and Jeffrey H. Greenhaus of Drexel University published “Sex, Gender, and Decisions at the Family → Work Interface” in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Management:

We explore whether sex differences in work-domain decisions can be explained by family-domain factors and whether the effect of family-domain factors on work decisions is different for women and men. We believe that answers to these questions can provide important insights into the role of sex in the interplay between family and work lives.

Athena Perrakis and Cynthia Martinez, both of the University of San Diego, published “In Pursuit of Sustainable Leadership: How Female Chairs With Children Negotiate Personal and Professional Roles” in the May 2012 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources.

The lived experiences of the women in this study indicate complex tensions between personal and professional roles. Childcare and home responsibilities were the primary factors that complicated or derailed efforts to achieve work–life balance.

Frank L. Giancola, HR researcher and writer, published “Can the Work–Life Movement Regain Its Balance?” in the September/October 2011 issue of Compensation & Benefits Review. See also our five-part series on work-life balance.

The work–life discipline of human resources (HR) management has been in a period of transformation for the past decade. This fact may have eluded many people in the business world, since the key reasons behind the transformation and the new direction are not widely known outside work–life circles.

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Part 5 of 5: What are the Current and Future Implications for a “Work-Life Balance?”

Today we’re continuing our special series of posts on Work-Life Balance. We hope you find the series insightful and thought-provoking.

What are the current and future implications for a “Work-Life Balance?” See the articles below to see what management researchers have to say.

Frank L. Giancola, HR Researcher and Writer, published “Can the Work-Life Movement Regain Its Balance?” in the September/October 2011 issue of Compensation & Benefits Review.

The work–life discipline has been in a period of transformation in recent years for two reasons—no growth in the prevalence of major work–life programs and a decline in the number of work–life specialists. To reinvigorate the field, work–life leaders have changed its signature term, charter and organizational change strategies. The transformation’s success is doubtful because of disagreement over a central premise, a vast and disjointed charter that infringes on other human resources disciplines, and movement into the field by a stronger rival. It will survive, but in a smaller form, based primarily on the concept of workplace flexibility.

Karen J. Crooker, University of Wisconsin–Parkside, Faye L. Smith, Emporia State University, and Filiz Tabak, Towson University, published “Creating Work-Life Balance: A Model of Pluralism across Life Domains” in the December 2002 issue of Human Resource Development Review.

This article develops a theoretical framework that explains how life complexity and dynamism affect work-life balance. The authors explain the moderating effects of munificence and accessibility of resources in one’s life as well as the personality differences and individual value systems on the relationship between life complexity/dynamism and work-life balance. The analysis leads to implications for future research and practice.

Paula J. Caproni, University of Michigan, published “Work/Life Balance: You Can’t Get There From Here” in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

In this article, I contend that the well-intentioned discourse of work/life balance in the popular and scholarly press actually may undermine women’s and men’s attempts to live fulfilling lives. Drawing on feminist and critical perspectives, as well as my own efforts to find “balance” in a two-career family with two children under the age of 4, I illustrate (a) how the work/life discourse reflects the individualism, achievement orientation, and instrumental rationality that is fundamental to modern bureaucratic thought and action and (b) how such discourse may further entrench people in the work/life imbalance that they are trying to escape.

Michael Lane Morris and Susan R. Madsen published “Advancing Work-Life Integration in Individuals, Organizations, and Communities” in the November 2007 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources.

The problem and the solution. Working adults report they experience greater challenges today in their ability to be productive employees, experience personal and interpersonal health and wellbeing, and make meaningful contributions as citizens to their respective communities. By better understanding work–life theory and research, human resource development professionals can contribute to the strategic development of policies, practices, programs, and interventions that appear to alleviate or ameliorate demands fostering greater work–life integration. Integration is a solution representing a holistic strategy including effective and efficient coordination of efforts and energies among all stakeholders sharing interest and benefits from workers being able to fulfill their personal,work, family, and community obligations.

Thank you for your continued interest in our themed week: “Work-life Balance!”

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