An Examination of Gender Differences in Work-Family Conflict

By McElwain, Allyson K.; Korabik, Karen et al. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, October 2005 | Go to article overview

An Examination of Gender Differences in Work-Family Conflict


McElwain, Allyson K., Korabik, Karen, Rosin, Hazel M., Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Abstract

The present study developed and tested an integrative model of the work-family interface. This model was applied separately to male and female subsamples to assess mean gender differences and gender differences in the links between the variables. Analyses were based on existing questionnaire data from 320 participants who were full-time professional employees of Canadian organizations. Gender differences were found in the relationship between family demands and family interference with work, while the results for family interference with work and job satisfaction, and family satisfaction and life satisfaction were equivocal. These results generally provide support for previous research indicating that an asymmetry continues to exist between men and women in their work and family roles. The limitations and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Résumé

Dans le cadre de la présente étude, nous avons élaboré et mis à l'essai un modèle d'intégration de la relation entre le travail et la famille. Ce modèle a été appliqué séparément aux sous-échantillons d'hommes et de femmes de manière à évaluer la moyenne des différences entre les sexes ainsi que les différences entre les sexes en fonction des variables. Les analyses s'appuyaient sur les données d'un questionnaire auxquels avaient répondu 320 participants, des employés professionnels travaillant à plein temps dans des organisations canadiennes. Nous avons observé des différences entre les sexes en ce qui a trait au lien entre les exigences familiales et l'interférence de la famille dans le travail, tandis que les résultats obtenus en ce qui a trait à l'interférence de la famille dans le travail et la satisfaction professionnelle, la satisfaction familiale et la satisfaction personnelle étaient ambigus. En règle générale, ces résultats viennent appuyer les conclusions d'une précédente recherche, qui indiquait qu'il existe encore une asymétrie entre les rôles joués par les hommes et les femmes au travail et dans la famille. Les limites et les questions d'ordre pratique issues de ces conclusions sont abordées.

Managing work and family responsibilities is an increasing problem in today's society due in part to the changing roles of men and women in both the workplace and at home. Not only are women now more likely to work outside the home, but it is now more common for men to fulfill more responsibilities within the home (Duxbury, Higgins, & Lee, 1994; Lero, 2003). This increase in dual-earner couples has led to modifications in the traditional roles and responsibilities men and women fulfill. Although it has been shown that an accumulation of social roles has positive outcomes (Sieber, 1974), fulfilling many roles can also have a negative impact (Cooke & Rousseau, 1984). Existing research suggests that the outcomes are most concerning when there are heavy responsibilities in both the work and family domain (Williams, Suis, Alliger, Learner, & Wan, 1991).

Work-family conflict (WFC) is a type of interrole stress (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985) that results from the incompatible demands that arise in the work and family domains. Much research has demonstrated that WFC can have important effects on both the quality of work and family life. The intention of this study was to examine the role gender plays in the WFC process.1 Because men and women may perceive and react to WFC differently, the aim was to conduct a more complete investigation of gender differences than has been conducted in the past (e.g., Duxbury & Higgins, 1991). Specifically, there were three purposes of the current study: 1) to empirically test an integrative model of WFC using a prospective design; 2) to assess whether there were mean gender differences in domain-specific demands, conflict, and satisfaction; and 3) to apply the general model to subsamplcs of men and women to examine gender differences in the pattern of relationships among the variables. …

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