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Why Do Working Dads Have Such A Vastly Different View Of Work-Life Balance?

Men and women deal with the the demands of home and office in nearly opposite ways. Do men just complain more, or is there more to it?

Why Do Working Dads Have Such A Vastly Different View Of Work-Life Balance?
[Photo: Flickr user Jake Stimpson]

One refreshingly simple chart reveals a lot about how working moms and dads view their roles.

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In the 2015 Economic Report of the President released last month, this piece of data in the 414-page tome of the nation’s economic progress is earning the most double-takes.

According to Vox, White House economist Betsey Stevenson told reporters that women laugh at this chart when they see it:


At some shining point in the early ’90s, we were all on the same page.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has a few theories:

  1. More moms started working between 1977 and 2008, creating more conflict at home;
  2. Men are more reluctant to add housework to paid work than women are to add paid work to housework;
  3. Conflict is code for guilt, from a nagging wife or demanding boss;
  4. Men just complain more.

He’s betting on the first and third reasons.

The fourth is a tempting side to take, with working fathers experiencing a “daddy bonus.” But that’s because men aren’t encouraged to take paternity leave, Vivian Giang reported last week. They don’t take off to spend time at home when their children are born, and their working hours tend to go up to support their newly grown families. The ’50s-era stereotype of absentee fathers and stressed-out stay-at-home mothers is over.

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In 1970, only 31% of mothers worked outside the home, the study reports. Today, it’s closer to 63%. Roles are shifting to meet those demands. The birth rate is declining, and women are delaying motherhood (or forgoing it altogether). With more opportunity for meaningful careers and a push for encouraging female leadership, something had to give. And change is hard.

The follow-up chart in the presidential report is also worth a look:


In 2010, 46% of full-time working men and women reported that their job demands interfered with their family life “sometimes or often,” up from 41% in 2002, the report says. The way we see conflict is changing: It’s not that our personal lives are bleeding into careers, but vice versa. We’re shifting how we see work in general. And half of us would prefer to stay home, anyway.

[via Vox]

About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.

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