Gen X Women Still Searching for Flexibility. (Workforce/Employment)

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, April 2002 | Go to article overview

Gen X Women Still Searching for Flexibility. (Workforce/Employment)


The majority of both generation X women and men are concerned with their quality of life, with an emphasis on having good relationships with family, but women in this age group still carry the bulk of household and childcare duties, according to a Catalyst study of U.S. and Canadian women and men born between 1964 and 1975. Women age 27-38 are also more likely than men of the same age to say their jobs interfere with their home and personal lives.

Nearly a third of gen X women and men (29%) say their work interferes severely with their personal lives, while another 43% say their jobs exert a moderate degree of interference on other aspects of their lives. Women are more likely than men, however, to say the amount of time taken-up by their jobs makes it difficult for them to fulfill personal responsibilities--probably because women have heavier responsibilities outside the workplace than men do.

Nearly two thirds of women age 27-38 (64%) always or often come home from work too tired to do some of the things they want to do at home, compared with 55% of men who feel this way. Four in 10 gen X women (41%) and 36% of men in the same age group say their jobs take up so much time that it is frequently difficult for them to fulfill personal responsibilities.

It is not surprising, therefore, that women are more likely to express a desire for flexible work arrangements such as the ability to choose their own hours, to telecommute, or to work part-time.

When asked about factors that are important to job satisfaction, women are significantly more likely than men to emphasize access to technology (50% of women and 41% of men consider it extremely important) and the ability to telecommute (32% of women and 17% of men rate it extremely important).

Clearly the freedom to be in touch with family while at work and to work while being physically accessible to their kids is of paramount importance to women. Women's and men's motivations for wanting flexible work arrangements also differ, though the top reason for both genders is childcare responsibilities.

While gen X women and men are equally likely (or unlikely) to be planning to leave their current positions, women who do plan to leave are more likely than men who plan to leave to cite lack of workplace flexibility as a significant reason for leaving. The top reason for which both women and men leave their jobs, however, is opportunity: for greater intellectual stimulation (77%), better advancement (75%), and higher pay (72%).

Interestingly, the gulf between U.S. women's and men's desire for flexible work arrangements does not exist among Canadian respondents. More than eight in 10 U.S. women age 27-38 (83%) consider flexible work arrangements important to career advancement and satisfaction, compared with 69% of U.S. men who feel the same way. About three quarters of Canadian women and men (74%) say flexible work arrangements are important to career advancement and satisfaction.

Although this generation of Americans has been characterized as egalitarian, the division of labor at home is still uneven. In heterosexual gen X couples where both partners work, fathers are more likely to work 50 or more hours per week than are mothers (50% of men with children do so versus 42% of women with children). Women are almost twice as likely as men to leave a job to relocate for a spouse/partner's job (13% of women versus 7% of men have done so). Women are far less likely than men to say their own career is primary in a two-career couple. Canadian couples are more likely than U.S. couples to say that neither career is primary (63% of both women and men in Canada say so, compared with 43% of U. …

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