Working Women Deserve a Work-Life Balance

Via Burst

As female college students prepare for the start of their future careers, it’s important to consider the issue of integrating a healthy work-life balance. Work-life balance is a well-known concept across many different cultures and is a growing phenomenon due to the high prevalence rate of working families. The term can be defined as the effective management between one’s career and life. Life includes health, pleasure, leisure and family. With the rise in the elimination of society’s traditional gender roles, this has become an issue for most men and women. Past research has shown that women usually have issues with balancing the demands of life and work. Although gender roles are slowly diminishing, household responsibilities, in many cases, still fall heavily on women. Being a working mother can be very challenging when not receiving the proper support from one’s workplace and family. However, as more recent studies have shown, this challenge has also profoundly increased for working fathers as well putting men and women at a mutual desire for an effective work-life balance.

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In a study conducted on the gender differences in academic surgery on work-life balance and satisfaction, the researchers surveyed surgical trainees and faculty members at an academic medical center. They found that women are more likely to be married to a full-time working professional as compared to their male counterparts. Men were also more likely to be on a tenure track. Women’s household responsibilities included childcare planning, meal planning, grocery shopping and vacation planning.

Equal effort responsibilities include financial planning and monthly bill payments. Women, generally, held more household responsibilities compared to their male counterparts. These results tended to stay stable across generations. The unequal distribution of household chores leads to more stress and pressure on women to effectively manage their careers and personal lives. With the combination of unequal home responsibilities, demanding careers and the possibility of a lack of support offered by organizations, it seems that a healthy work-life balance may be almost non-existent for working women. Due to this struggle of maintaining a balance, females are underrepresented in many demanding professions. The lack of support from the system and organizations within fields that involve demanding jobs leads women to believe that they are unable to have a stable and healthy home life while also having a successful career. Therefore, many women are either not taking on these demanding professional roles or struggle to keep a balance in their home life and career if they do. This leaves women with the unfortunate bind of having to choose between her family and her career.

Via Pixabay

On the other hand, the desire for a work-life balance and the difficulties involved with maintaining one may also be regarded as equally shared between men and women. Doble and Surpriya argue that men and women have similar perceptions in that flexible working hours (part-time work, freedom to work from home) will lead to a more effective and healthy work life balance. The results from their study conducted on Indian IT working professionals indicate that both men and women complain about not having sufficient time to spend with their families. Additionally, the constant stress and thought of work puts employees in a situation where the line between work and life is blurred. Therefore, the researchers conclude that work-life balance is a phenomenon that both men and women desire, however, due to the pressures of their careers, it is hard to achieve this state. Rather than this being an issue of a difference between men and women it is more so a struggle faced by all working individuals, regardless of gender.

Via Pexels

Although many regard this as an issue for both genders, it can also be argued that gender should not even matter when considering the struggle of a work-life balance. More so, an extension of the second stance states that focusing on the issue of work-life balance as a difference between men and women might be harmful to all employees. This will never create equality and effectiveness in the workplace. Therefore, researchers explain that work-life balance integration is a phenomenon that organizations should work to support for all employees individually regardless of their position, profession and/or gender. It may be more counterproductive to implement resources and programs that only support and encourage women in the workplace to utilize these work-life balance policies. This could provide a double standard for other employees and make them feel as if they are unable to participate in this initiative to maintain a healthier balance. Additionally, these employees may also feel as if these resources are not recognizing them or their needs and that it is more so only for women employees.

In the end, researchers urge for organizations to break away from traditional gender ideologies and focus on being more inclusive to all employees, regardless of their gender. Resources should more inclusive and should encompass the needs of all employees within an organization, so that more women can lead balanced lives.