Work pressure increasingly seeing men doing overtime, women being fired

June 17th, 2009 - 12:45 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 17 (ANI): With the pressure of work on families increasing day by day, kids may often see their fathers working overtime and their mothers losing their jobs, because they have to juggle official and household chores.

A new study has found that many men these days are pressured to work up to 40 hours of overtime-often unpaid-per week to stay competitive.

Women, on the other hand, work fewer hours on the job owing to their family obligations, and that puts them at risk of demotions or even dismissal.

The findings support growing body of evidence that heightened competition in the workplace, combined with modern business practices, leads to increased levels of overtime that may not even be productive in the long run.

“This clearly does not ease the situation for women and men who want to combine career and family-life. Moreover, a growing body of literature shows that working long hours does not automatically lead to greater productivity and effectiveness, and thus not necessarily contributes to employers’ needs but potentially harms the well-being of employees,” concluded lead author Patricia van Echtelt and colleagues.

The extensive study looked at the working habits of 1,114 male and female Dutch employees, and found that, among the survey respondents, 69 percent of all men worked overtime versus 42 percent of women.

Women who work overtime do so at a rate that is about one-third lower than that of their male colleagues, which, according to the researchers, is “usually explained by the continuing trend for women to be more involved in unpaid family work.”

And even when partners share family chores, “men often characterize their contribution as ‘helping’ their wives, without feeling to have the main responsibility.”

Thus, the researchers predicted that families with more kids and at-home responsibilities would become “more constrained in their opportunities to indulge the ‘choice’ to work overtime.”

Choice is turning into expectation at most companies built upon the “team work” model, with pressures coming from project teams, responsibility for meeting profit or production targets, imposed deadlines and employees left to manage their own careers.

A previous study at a software engineering firm, for example, determined that interdependent work patterns, “a crisis mentality,” and a reward system based on individual heroics led to “inefficient work processes and long working hours.”

Cornell University’s Youngjoo Cha, who led another U.S. data-based study found that if a husband works more than 60 hours a week, his wife is 42 percent more likely to leave her position.

The findings have been published in the journal Gender & Society. (ANI)

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