Monday, March 19, 2007
Work-Life Balance Is An Issue For Both Genders
Time for family is an integral part of "work-life balance" for both genders, but it is often characterized largely as a women's issue both in the media and in the mindset of the culture at large. That is not the reality. According to a recent survey, "more than 90 percent of full-time employed adults believe work/life balance" is an issue for everyone - and that "only 15 percent report actually achieving a schedule they are content with."
Women's organizations - such as MomsRising, The MOTHERS Initiative, the National Association of Mothers' Centers and the Mothers Movement Online - are in the forefront of winning family time for America's workers. Most of these organizations say that men are welcome to take part. But, as the article at the link below points out, "are men really going to join a revolution that doesn't have their name on it?" Moreover, the issue doesn't involve just mothers, but fathers too - and any movement in support of work-life balance should acknowledge that explicitly.
Some new organizations do take a gender-neutral approach to family time issues for working Americans. These include the Children, Work and Family caucus organized by U.S. Senators Arlen Spector and Christopher Dodd, the Take Back Your Time movement founded by filmmaker John de Graaf, and The Healthy Family Act "which features progressive, gender-neutral language, and will be up for review again this month."
But organizations willing to identify fathers as well as mothers as parents who need more time for family are not enough by themselves. Significant cultural hurdles remain. Although many corporations offer parental leave for fathers, few men take advantage of it for fear of appearing weak, soft or unserious about their jobs. The macho mystique of corporate self-sacrifice still keeps most men from pursuing their own best interests. According to the author of the article - herself a female journalist - cultural change requires more than the pioneering "courage of individual fathers... but an inclusive, broad-based movement that values men's interests and leverage in work/family balance as much as it does women's."
"Fighting Apart for Time Together" from The American Prospect