That’s according to a series of US studies on flexibility in the workplace, published in the Journal of Social Issues last week. The authors looked at why, despite the availability, workers in the US are not fully using flexible working programmes.
While the penalties women face in the workplace after having children are well documented, the studies say men who reduce their working hours or take career breaks for family reasons also experience a “flexibility stigma” which limits their future careers and reduces earnings. In addition, care-giving fathers experience more harassment and mistreatment than traditional fathers and men without children.
“Men who request family leave are viewed as poor organizational citizens and ineligible for rewards,” said one report.
The authors suggest that while men value flexible working, they may be less likely to request it because of “potentially well-founded fears of stigmatization”.
Another report focused on the “all or nothing workplace”, and said women who work flexibly “are subjected to various forms of stigmatizing treatment, which plays a role in their decision to suspend their careers”. It added that the 54 women studied generally accepted that professional jobs needed to take place in normal hours and so did not see their treatment as unjust.
In addition, the studies found that women without children experience more harassment and mistreatment than mothers, and mothers who spend less time on care-giving experience more harassment and mistreatment than mothers who spend more time with their children.
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