Campus & Community

Study: For men, family comes first

4 min read

Having a job schedule that allows for family time is more important to young men than money, power, or prestige, according to a new study released today by the Radcliffe Public Policy Center. Eighty-two percent of men ages 20-39 put family time at the top of their list, keeping pace with 85 percent of women in those age groups. Breaking ranks with their fathers and grandfathers on the important issue of work-family integration, 71 percent of men 21-39 said they would give up some of their pay for more time with their families.

“What we’re seeing is a transformation between generations and gender,” said Paula Rayman, director of the Radcliffe Public Policy Center and principal investigator in the study Life’s Work: Generational Attitudes Toward Work and Life Integration. “Young men are beginning to replicate women’s sensibilities instead of women in the workforce trying to be more like men.”

The national survey of 1,008 men and women ages 21 to 65-plus, funded by FleetBoston Financial and conducted by Harris Interactive, examined attitudes toward work, life and family across the generations. Researchers found a variety of contrasts between young and old, men and women, labor and professional occupations. The survey showed that increasing numbers of young men want to take an active role in raising their children; most workers perceive that their loyalty toward employers is not reciprocated; and many workers are sleep deprived.

“Today’s worker has more choices and more control over their career than ever before,” said Anne Szostak, executive vice president and director of Corporate Human Resources at Fleet. “Any employer who ignores workers’ needs and expectations in the new economy does so at their own peril.”

While women’s struggle to balance work and family has been a focus of much study, Center researchers discovered that family time is as important to young men as women. In fact, survey data show that young men in their 20’s are seven percent more likely than young women to give up pay for more time with their families.

For both men and women, the most important job characteristic shifts over time. The family-friendly work schedule favored by 84 percent of workers in their 20’s and 30’s shifts to an interest in challenging and rewarding work for 79 percent in their 40’s and then focuses on enjoyable co-worker relationships for over 86 percent of people 50 and older.

Seventy percent of men and women in all age groups agreed that gender roles have changed dramatically compared to their parents’ generation. The era where the father worked 40 hours a week and the mother stayed home with the children is long past for most Americans. Yet many respondents still held on to some old-fashioned notions.

Center researchers found that workers are of two minds when it comes to raising a family. While a resounding 96 percent of those polled said both parents should share equally in the care-taking of children, 68 percent also said they thought one parent should stay home during a child’s early years.

The research for this study was conducted under a grant from FleetBoston Financial to the Radcliffe Public Policy Center at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. This is the second major work and life study Radcliffe and Fleet have undertaken together. The Life’s Work project team includes: Paula Rayman, Ph.D. (Center Director and Principal Investigator); Françoise Carré (Research Program Director); Leslie Cintrón (Research Associate and Project Director); and Shannon Quinn (Media Relations Officer).

For more information or to get a copy of the new study Life’s Work: Generational Attitudes Toward Work and Life Integration, please call Shannon Quinn at (617) 496-3048 or (617) 496-3478.