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Work-Life Balance: Gender Perceptions of Work-Life Balance
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Work-Life Balance: Gender Perceptions of Work-Life Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Gender Perceptions of Work-Life Balance

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Gender Perceptions of Work-Life Balance

We’re all pretty good at evaluating our own work-life balance, and a search through some of the employment websites even lets us see how others rate their own work-life balance specific to the companies who employ them. But how meaningful is others’ perception of our work-life balance? Does it matter if we appear to others to have home, office, health, spirit, and everything in tune? It does if others’ perceptions influence their evaluation of our job performance, which has been demonstrated to be the case. Recent research took one piece of this question, looking at men’s and women’s perceived work-life balance around the world and comparing it to their supervisors’ perceptions of their work-lfe balance.

Employees’ work-life balance, as perceived by their superiors, is connected to a country’s cultural views on men’s and women’s roles, as reported in the January 2014 issues of Applied Psychology. Researchers, working with previous classifications of countries’ egalitarianism, examined supervisors’ evaulations of nearly 41,000 subordinate managers in 36 countries. In less egalitarian countries, supervisors perceived their female employees as having less work-life balance than their male counterparts, particularly in the area of work-life conflict.

This is meaningful because earlier research shows that employees seen as having less work-life balance are less likely to be rated highly by their supervisors, and therefore less likely to be promoted. In countries rated more egalitarian, there is no significant difference between men’s and women’s perceived work-life balance in the eyes of their supervisors. Interestingly, even in less egalitarian countries, there was no difference between men’s and women’s perceptions of their own work-life balance. Men and women, in the midst of the realities of their jobs, see their work-life balance about the same while immersed in the same cultures as the supervisors who rate them differently.

This research inspires a few relevant questions to our own situations. Do we allow our cultural ideas about men’s and women’s roles in society and at work to influence our perceptions of work-life balance? How important is work-life balance in our evaluations of others’ job performance? If our perception of others’ work-life balance is connected to our evaluations of them, how do we ensure that our perceptions are fair, or how to do we shift our thinking toward more actual performance-related markers?

At its most primal level, we’re talking about fairness in the workplace, but even if your company exists in less egalitarian cultures where the measuring sticks might be different than those used elsewhere, if you can remove that filter in evaluating your employees’ performance, you help yourself by advancing the best workers, whatever their gender, and that’s better for your employees, for your company, and for all stakeholders.

 

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Work-Life Balance: Gender Perceptions of Work-Life Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

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