A recent research study conducted by Shockley, K. 2017 found that men feel work affects their family life and vise versa in a similar way to that felt by women. The difference is that women tend to talk more openly about this issue in comparison to men who do not feel comfortable discussing family and work concerns. They have a fear that if they do talk openly about this issue it may threaten their masculinity, have negative career repercussions and they may be stigmatised. However, when asked anonymously in confidential surveys men are more open, which is how Shockley did her research.
One difference noted by the study was that women tend to feel more guilt about the affect work has on family life in comparison to men. This could be due to traditional gender role expectations of men and women with women being known as caretakers and men as breadwinners. However Shockley points out that more research is needed in this area before any conclusions can be made.
Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that fathers were just as likely as mothers to say that parenting is extremely important to their identity. A key finding that has been drawn from the study and expressed by Shockley is the concern for men who are struggling silently with the conflict between work and family.
My question is what happens now as more and more men are becoming primary caregivers and are spending more time doing household chores and taking on parenting responsibilities. Now that we are aware of this issue is anything going to change? Are men going to open up about how work is taking time away from their family or are they going to express how their role within the family is affecting their performance at work?
I suspect that many of you will agree with me when I say that nothing much will change a few men may read this article and be able to relate, this may be a discussion on a dinner table but these findings alone will not generate a change in the way gender roles and stereo types are presented in society. We need to be the change we want to see in society.
In my coaching practice (Avid Coaching) I coach many clients both male and female who struggle with work/life balance. Both genders struggle with stress (www.avidcoaching.co.uk). Women fear that if they talk about this issue outside of our sessions they will be judged especially if they are in a role that is male dominated. Men are relieved to be able to discuss how to manage both work and personal life, to discuss how one is affecting the other in a confidential environment where they are free from being judged. They feel that they can really open up and by doing this they are able to create ways and strategies of coping and juggling both roles with positive outcomes.
We need to start to open up these conversations not just with women but also with men. Both genders male and female need to know that it is okay to speak up and discuss how they feel, how they are juggling family and career, how one is affecting the other.
If you want to know more about how you can overcome these issues in your life email me at firstname.lastname@example.org