Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shorter work days and flexibility vs creating wealth

Found via a link in a link in a link or so. Sometimes I wonder if I even should give credit. The first link was via Reddit though. Anyhow we are talking about what different things men and women want in the context of work:

The study found that while 5.6 percent of men would opt for fewer work hours, 10.1 percent of women would prefer less time spent in the office. The gap might reflect women’s disproportionate share of household responsibilities, the researchers say. Another explanation might be that women just feel they need to spend more time at home with their children.

The results, detailed in the April issue of the U.S. Department of Labor's Monthly Labor Review, have implications for understanding why women’s participation in the labor force, which had climbed in the early 1990s, has leveled off over the past five to 10 years, said the study’s lead author Lonnie Golden, a Penn State University economist.[...]

Golden analyzed data from the 2001 U.S. Current Population Survey, in which more than 57,000 individuals responded to supplemental questions involving work-hour preferences. The survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, produces monthly and annual-average estimates of the nation’s employment and unemployment.[...]

The findings related to women in the workplace point out a need for re-structuring of the workplace, Golden said. Economists and other labor researchers have debated whether women leave the workforce because they are happier at home or because the workplace is too rigid and prevents a balanced work-home life.

There was also this study:

Differences between women and men MBA entrepreneurs: exploring family flexibility and wealth creation as career motivators - Richard DeMartino, Robert Barbato - 2002

The purpose of this study was to compare male and female entrepreneurs with similar backgrounds; in particular, all received MBA degrees from a top-tier business school. [...]

Although the male and female entrepreneurs have similar backgrounds, demographics, and timing and age of their businesses, several differences were found. When asked about the career motivators that were most important, women entrepreneurs preferred a career that gave them flexibility and allowed them to balance their career with their family obligations. While these were the most important considerations for women entrepreneurs, they were among the
least important for male entrepreneurs. In contrast, the male entrepreneurs were most motivated by careers that would allow them to create wealth, while female entrepreneurs indicated that creating wealth and career advancement were the least important motivations. The differences between these two groups were large and meaningful. This confirms the findings of previous researchers (Geoffee and Scase, 1983; Scott, 1986; Kaplin, 1988, Buttner, 1993) who also found similar differences. This finding also contradicts the findings of previous research by Fischer et al. (1993), who found that women entrepreneurs were more motivated by financial considerations than male entrepreneurs.

These differences became even larger when the comparison was between married women and men entrepreneurs with dependent children. This helps to explain the findings of Caputo and Kolinsky (1998), who found that the presence of children increased the propensity of women to start their own businesses. The percentage difference between the two groups increases in every career motivator in this study with the largest increases occurring in the motivations to meet family obligations and have family friendly policies. Most of the increase in difference occurs, however, because of the effect of dependent children on women entrepreneurs. For the most part, married male entrepreneurs with dependent children do not differ from unmarried male entrepreneurs in terms of their career motivations.
Conversely, an alternative dynamic appears to emerge when comparing single women and men without dependents to married women and men without dependents. When this comparison is made, gender differences emerge in only one of the six variables tested, i.e., wealth creation. This finding reinforces the importance of dependent status on career
motivators for women entrepreneurs and confirms the research of Still and Timms (2000).

In summary, the findings of this study support previous research that women are using entrepreneurship as a career choice that provides them flexibility to manage family obligations. It provides a nuanced view of these differences when the motivations of men and women are compared by marital and dependent status. Overall, women differ from men by possessing a higher intensity of preference for family-related motivators. The most significant differences, however, emerged when comparing married women with dependents and married men with dependents. Comparisons between single and married men and women without dependents did not demonstrate statistically significant differences. It is important to underscore that the gender differences detected in this study, which compares MBA graduates, are similar to those reported in other studies. This is an important point, because some researchers suggest that previously reported differences could be a result of women having less business knowledge and education and lower potential for advancement. This study, however, concludes that these differences can also be explained by differences in career motivators. The study provides evidence in support of those studies that suggest that women entrepreneurs are more motivated by the need to balance work and family responsibilities.

Entrepreneurship as a career can offer a degree of flexibility and balance that some other careers do not offer. This study provides some clues as to why women-owned businesses now make up 40% of all businesses and why women continue to start businesses at twice the rate of men.

To highlight one sentence from the above study "Comparisons between single and married men and women without dependents did not demonstrate statistically significant differences". This, as well as the wage-gap for single childless women, teaches us an interesting lesson, when it comes to the wage gap as well as motivations behind it, we will find less blatant discrimination and more different life choices. So everyone who points out the 77c number is missing the mark. It those differences come from nature or nurture is a different question. I am sure the answer is both, to what degree is debatable. As for nurture, one thing I'd like to mention as well which often is forgotten in feminist discussion on this topic, it goes for both men and women. We raise men to be the provider and raise women to be the nurturer. Depending on the influence of nature (I always like to cite a women's experience during pregnancy / breast feeding, which gives women an edge when it comes to bonding, as an example) we might not be able to produce equal results (= no pay gap), we should however work hard to make both roles for everyone acceptable. Feminists did a good job in opening up the provider role for women, it is time we do something for men/fathers.

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