Findings of an Israeli study that were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association reveal that working moms are more stressed when thinking about family matters at work than dads despite the fact that both think about their family about 30 percent of their mental labor. According to the researchers who were led by Shira Offer from the Bar-Ilan University, this is related to social expectations, forcing moms to take on a larger part of responsibility for child care and household which in turn forces them to think more often about less pleasant aspects of family life and be more worried about things such as picking up their kids on time, etc..
The results of the Israeli study are based on the 500 Family Study which investigated the balance between work and family among US middle class families with both parents working. The researchers who conducted the mentioned study surveyed over 400 moms and nearly 300 dads. Moms who completed the survey were found to spend about 29 hours thinking about things that may affect their performance as opposed to 24 hours per week for working dads. But as mentioned earlier, both moms and dads spent about 30 percent of their mental labor thinking about family-related matters. Moms, however, experienced a higher level of stress.
The author of the Israeli study believes that moms are more stressed when thinking about their families because they think they are responsible family-related matters. Offer and her team also noted that moms are expected to adjust their schedules to their family needs which puts an additional stress on them and their perception of themselves as employees.
Offer explained that the role of the ‘household manager’ may make working moms feel that they aren’t dedicating enough time to work. According to the study author, this makes them more likely to get preoccupied with work-related matters outside their workplace. Dads, on the other hand, experienced relatively little work-related spillover despite the fact that they are often expected to be available 24/7, especially those holding managerial positions which as Offer noted, was surprising to her. She continued that working dads appear to be better in leaving work issues at the workplace and separating work and family life. However, Offer also noted that dads may be able to do so because their spouses are carrying the larger part of responsibility for family.
Offer concluded that most of responsibility for child raising and taking care of household still falls on moms despite the fact that dads help out more with both than they used to in the past. But she also believes that responsibility for family should be more evenly distributed between both working parents. But in order for dads to take on more responsibility, they should be encouraged rather than punished for taking on a more active role in their family on both state and organizational level. Without the need to worry that they will be viewed as less dedicated workers by their colleagues and employers, dads would be more involved in their family matters which in turn would improve gender equality.
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