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Work and life balance, men struggle too

By Rosie Taylor Time of article published Jul 28, 2017

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MEN worry just as much as women about their work-life balance – but don't complain in case they are viewed as not being masculine.

Psychologists revealed men keep quiet over concerns about how much the office encroaches on family time for fear of being stigmatised in the workplace.

Researchers analysed 350 studies carried out over three decades involving more than 250,000 people from the US, Europe and Asia.

They found that while men were often afraid to speak about their work-life problems publicly, on average the same number of men as women admitted concerns in confidential questionnaires. Researcher Dr Kristen Shockley, of the University of Georgia, said: ‘I do think it's harming men who are silently struggling and are experiencing the same amount of work-family conflict, but no one is acknowledging it.' 

Previous studies have suggested men are afraid to speak out in case it has negative repercussions for their career or they are passed over for promotion.

The results of the latest study contradict the stereotype that only women have difficulty juggling work and family. Shockley said the public believed the stereotype because it was more socially acceptable for women to complain openly about work-life balance.

She added: ‘We essentially found very little evidence of differences between women and men as far as the level of work-family conflict they report. This is quite contrary to the common public perception.

‘Women hear that other women are struggling with this issue, so they expect they will experience greater work-family conflict.' Shockley said men and women may experience the same level of such conflict but see it differently.

The study found men were slightly more likely to feel that work interfered with their family life, while women tended to feel family interfered with work. 

But women were most likely to feel guilty when work impinged on family life, with researchers suggesting this was due to traditional expectations that they should be care-givers. As men are traditionally viewed as breadwinners, they experienced less guilt as they could fulfil their family responsibilities by working. 

In recent years, men have increasingly become primary carers for young children. Fathers on average now spend more time caring for their children and carrying out household chores than historically – although women still spend more time on both tasks.

The researchers found the level of gender equality in the individual countries studied had no effect on the amount of work-life conflict suffered by both sexes. 

The study was published by the American Psychological Association in the online Journal of Applied Psychology. This week it emerged the number of stay-at-home mothers in the UK is at a record low. There are now just 1.91million, compared with 2.91million when records began in 1993.

© Daily Mail

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