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Family-To-Work Conflict: Gender, Equity and Workplace Policies

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Family-to-Work Conflict: Gender, Equity and Workplace Policies by Jia Zhao, Barbara H. Settles and Xuewen Sheng explore the conflict and equity of family and work responsibilities of parents, considering the gender roles, family demand and job satisfaction. This revolutionary shift of parental roles and the increase of dual-income families present a problem in the distribution of both work and family responsibilities of parents in the United States. Different researches explored the problem and tried to even up the family and work responsibilities, and sacrificing both of parents. They attempted to diagnose the factors and results of the interference of work responsibilities with family duties and vice versa.

Some studies suggest that the conflict between work and family responsibilities is an indicator of the life satisfaction, associating it to the job satisfaction. However, it is indefinite how it affects the relationship between work and family responsibilities. Research suggests that the role influences between the family and work are incompatible. Hence, work pressures may interfere with family duties and vice versa. Each domain demands the performance of responsibilities, expectations and commitments of both areas; therefore, the possibility of high interference exists.

Jia Zhao, Barbara H. Settles, and Xuewen Sheng introduced gender as a primary moderator of the interference between the family and work responsibilities of parents. Considering the gender, the culture of individualism in the United States encourages equality between the mothers and fathers.

Research Question

The authors explore the relationship between the family demands and the job satisfaction of parents, considering the gender role differences. According to them, the interference of the family duties in the work affects the relationship between the job satisfaction and family demands. They claim that the greater family demands lead to lower job satisfaction, but this is true only for women. The family demands which include household labor and childcare involve mothers mostly, and not fathers.

The author’s claim in the study presents a widely accepted and evident concept not only in the United States, but particularly in other countries. Generally, women are inclined to do housework, even in this height of societal reforms regarding the role of women in the society. Though many women are the working mothers, and though they are widely accepted in the work area, their job satisfaction is still more likely to be affected by family responsibilities more than men. As Jia Zhao, Barbara H. Settles, and Xuewen Sheng explore it, the general public, particularly the working mothers, would be greatly aware of this fact. This may help them to understand, cope and employ their interchanging roles.

Data Gathering Method

The authors gathered the data by survey through the interviews and telephone calls. Due to its representative of the United States national sample, the authors used the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW) as their source of data for analysis. The survey includes a total of 3,504 interviews with dual-employed adults between the October 2002 and 2003, and telephone calls with a random probability sample, generated by the random-digit-dial methods.


The sample population was limited to the waged and salaried workers, whose spouses were also working for being paid. The total population sample was 1,744, among whom 1,326 respondents had at least one child. Eight hundred ninety five (895) had at least one child, less than 18 years of age and living with them for at least six months. Seven hundred eleven (711) respondents had full-time jobs and the data from them was analyzed in the study to control the job status.

The summary of the data from the sample population presents a mean age of 40 where the average age of fathers is 41.2, and the average age of mothers is 38.6. Eighty percent (80%) of the respondents were white Americans, 9.4 percent were black or African Americans, and the other 9.9 percent were from the other racial groups. The sample population represented a group of well-educated workers, since more than 70 percent were bachelors or above. The number of children had an average of 2.4.


            According to the findings, mothers were significantly involved more in household labor and child care than fathers, and fathers worked for more hours than mothers. The results show that the job satisfaction was indirectly affected by the interference of the family duties. Moreover, mothers were more affected by the family demands than fathers, since fathers take less household duties than mothers; therefore, mothers were more likely to experience the interchanging roles at home and in the workplace.

Topical Concepts

The way parents perceive their roles is also a product of socialization. Gender roles of parents and workers are shaped and determined by the society (Hanan, 2000). Although the modern society has accepted the societal reforms regarding the roles of women, the ideals of the society still tend to incline to conceive women as the homemakers. This is how the roles of women in the society are affected by socialization. Society dictates every role to everyone, and it is through the socialization that the individual acknowledges his/her functions. Through the society, parents distinguish the gender stereotypes both at home and in the workplace. They are influenced by the common beliefs of the society and these influences contribute to the development of their responses to their roles and preferences.

Gender roles of parents and workers are also related to and connected with the culture (Haviland, Prins, McBride, Walrath, 2011). The culture of the society imposes the roles of the individual. The modern culture accepts women in the workplace and allows exchanges of the roles between the father and the mother. Today, many women are engaged in politics, medicine, sciences and other disciplines from which only men are traditionally acknowledged. Women are renowned for their great contributions to the change of the world. These women include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Corazon Aquino, Diana, the princess of Wales, Rice Condoleezza and many others. On the other hand, many men are also taking pleasure in exploring the kitchen of which women are traditionally expected to do. The culinary and the fashion world divide the population with both men and women.

Sociological Imagination

It is an unnecessary-to-say reality that the traditional role of women is still carried in the modern society. Although both genders explore the world of the other nowadays, the gap between their roles is still present. It is because the society is still generally accustomed to the traditional roles of parents and workers, their expectations and hopes towards each gender are disposed to be conventional.

Most working mothers are suffering from the demands from both work duties and home responsibilities. Because mothers are predisposed to take the household chores, they are more likely to experience the job dissatisfaction. Mothers had a hard time balancing and accommodating educational activities of their children, household chores, and responsibilities in the workplace than fathers. Fathers are given more privileges by the traditional social system to concentrate in the work field, while mothers are trying to balance all their time to all the demands of their interchanging roles. However, the flexibility of work time may address the mentioned problem. With more flexible working hours, the mother will have enough time for every demand, and will more likely experience the job satisfaction.

Jia Zhao, Barbara H. Settles, and Xuewen Sheng’s Family-to-Work Conflict: Gender, Equity and Workplace Policies made me realize more of the present situation of our society’s smallest unit – the family. Socialization within the family is very important not only to the parents, but especially to the children – for the development of their whole being. The home is the first social place for these children, and they obtain their very own identity primarily from their parents. The home is where these children create and build their whole being, and the socialization within the home gives them a glimpse of what life should be outside. Therefore, the children are greatly influenced by the parents and the other members of the family.

Although it is not surprising to see mothers working to pay and leave their children to nursemaids, it is somehow alarming to see many children having distant relationships with their parents, particularly mothers. Parents may not be aware, but they are taking away from their children their right to be with them, their right for socialization. Whether we accept it or not, these children are living their lives miserably (not because they are economically inadequate, but because the sweet impulses of childhood are not encouraged simply because the parents are absent). This simple privilege of the child that is taken away from him/her has a significant effect on the development of his/her social nature, and may lead to the different social problems in the future.

This study also reminds me of the traditional structure of the family which we are supposed to adopt. This does not mean I am not trying to say that the modern society has wrong leads. What I am saying is that the traditional constitution of the family, where the mother stays and takes care of her child, and the conventional gender roles of the mother which is to guard her child in his/her childhood is more effective and more likely to produce the better results in the development of the social being of the child. This only shows that socialization is a very important aspect in the development of both the parent and the child.

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