How Kids Affect Career: Home Life Plays A Role In Treatment At Work (STUDY)

How Having Kids Affects Your Career

By: David Mielach, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer
Published: 06/14/2013 08:19 AM EDT on BusinessNewsDaily

Your annual review may not be the only thing playing a part in your career advancement, new research has found. That research suggests that one's home life may play a big role in how one is treated at work.

Men who took on nontraditional roles caring for children were treated worse at the office than men who had more traditional parenting roles, Jennifer Berdahl of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Sue Moon of Long Island University Post discovered.

The findings were not limited to men, however. Women without children and mothers with nontraditional caretaking arrangements also experienced poorer treatment than their counterparts in the office.

"Their hours are no different than other employees', but their co-workers appear to be picking up on their nontraditional care-giving roles and are treating them disrespectfully,” Berdahl said.

The researchers say mistreatment, at least in the case of men, comes from the fact that they are seen as lacking devotion to their work and company. That view is highlighted when looking at men who are not required to care for children since they are seen as being able to fully focus on their jobs without distraction.

Women face similar stigmas. Mothers with nontraditional child-rearing roles are believed to be more devoted and dedicated to their work. However, the researchers say that view does not help them to gain them respect in the office. Women who do not have children face similar problems, often being seen as cold but competent, the researchers say. As a result, both groups of women face high levels of mistreatment in the office.

"Both male and female employees suffer lower pay and fewer promotions after taking time off work to care for family, to extents that cannot be explained by possible skill loss, hours, performance or ambition," Berdahl said. "They may choose not to have children if these traditional roles are not feasible for them, or get in the way of family or career goals."

However, Berdahl says there are simple solutions to solve this problem. Namely, companies should focus on creating a workplace that fosters acceptance and makes workers feel appreciated and safe.

"What we really need is a more flexible workplace and policies that protect employees who choose to use that flexibility or not, regardless of their gender," Berdahl said.

The research was published in the Journal of Social Issues.

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