Selmi, M.L. (2008). The Work-Family Conflict: An Essay on Employers, Men and Responsibility. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 1(1), 1-24.
SSRN suggested citation: Selmi, Michael L., “The Work-Family Conflict: An Essay on Employers, Men and Responsibility” . University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2008 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1091464
Everyone knows it: women do fantastically well in academia and then suddenly disappear once they get close to having a seat at the power table. Why aren’t men at home more supportive?
“Family considerations are a major, but not the only, deterrent to pursing an academic career,” said Orna Cohen-Fix, Ph.D., a corresponding author of the report and senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “An increase in the number of women postdocs who decide to pursue an advanced research position will translate, in time, to a greater representation of women in tenured faculty positions. Our findings suggest that the loss of talented women from the research track can be reduced by mentoring and a change in the scientific culture to accommodate the needs of both women and men who wish to combine family and scientific careers.”
Because women are more affected by family responsibilities, help during the transition from postdoc to tenured faculty — such as affordable, high-quality child care or the possibility to work more flexible hours — may encourage more women to stay in academic research, the study found. The task force report includes several recommendations that may help increase the retention of women in the biological and medical sciences, and the NIH intends to continue keeping a close watch on career development of junior scientists in general and women in particular.
Professor Selmi of George Washington University Law school has another solution: tell men to step up to the plate and take some of the burden off of employers. This is a paradigm shift: most people view men helping with domestic duties as helping the women. Not so, says Professor Selmi. This helps employers who are trying to figure out ways to provide family-friendly workplaces. Professor Selmi points out that everyone gives men a free-pass on this. The point is that achieving gender equity in the workplace is to date based on a faulty premise: that men do not have to bear equal responsibility for domestic duties. If that premise were: men have equal responsibility for domestic duties, then employers could more easily adjust.
I suppose the problem is individual behavior. There are all sorts of data supporting this suggestion (see here and here, for example). If the federal government and all the economist in the universe can’t get a man to pitch in equally around the house, then I suppose this is a dysfunction of epidemic proportions that is highly underreported.