Thursday, September 1, 2011

Men want more family time-but say their career would suffer if they ask for it

MEDIA RELEASE 29 August 2011

Men want more family time – but say their career would suffer if they ask for it

Men want a better work-life balance but stop short of asking for time off or flexible working arrangements because they fear their career would suffer if they did, according to new research released today by advocacy organisation The 100% Project.

The research, ‘Men at Work: what they want and why it matters for women’ is based on a national survey carried out by The 100% Project with the support of Deakin University’s School of Psychology. The research found women were just as committed to their careers as men – and men were just as committed to their families as women.

The survey found that: 30 percent of men and 26 percent of women believe asking for greater work-life balance would negatively affect their career progression; 51 percent of women had asked their employer for a better work-life balance at some time during their career, but only 39 percent of men had and; 13 percent of men and 21 percent of women believe that managers look negatively on employees who take a lot of leave or ‘flex’ their time.
Chair of The 100% Project Frances Feenstra said Australia is a long way from achieving gender equality in appointments to senior management teams and Boards.

“Much of the research on this issue focuses on what women want,” Ms Feenstra said. “The 100% Project believes we won’t achieve real change unless we actively engage men. We wanted to find out if men are happy with the typical Australian workplace - and many of them aren’t”.

“If men don’t feel they can ask for the flexible working arrangements that would allow them to contribute more meaningfully to their family life, then women will continue to carry most of the burden. And that will impact on how successful they are in their career.

“Working long hours in full time jobs with little flexibility may not be what many men want, but it gives them an advantage in the competition for senior positions.”

In a foreword tothe report, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said that there are complex cultural issues at play in the persistence of gender inequality in many of our businesses and organisations.

“Why don’t men take advantage of flexible arrangements such as part time work to the same extent as their female colleagues do? The male respondents in this research said it was because they think their career will suffer if they do,” Ms Broderick wrote in her foreword to the report.

“That for me is one of the most significant and depressing findings of the research. I would like to see more men having flexible working arrangements and working part time.”

The 100% Project is developing a program called Facing the Challenge designed to help CEOs identify and act on the formal and informal barriers to the promotion of women into many senior roles.

The research report will be launched in Melbourne on August 30 and a panel, featuring Sue Conde AM, Catherine Fox, Richard Umbers and Robert Wood, will debate the issue.

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