Flexible Work Hurts Working Mothers

Think twice before taking that telecommuting position: Dwyer Gunn

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 28, 2013 1:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Amid all the uproar over Marissa Mayer ending telecommuting at Yahoo, the biggest concern of many was that the new policy would hurt working moms. But studies show it's actually flexible work policies that do the most harm to working moms, writes flex-worker and mom Dwyer Gunn on Slate. In particular, research has shown that alternate career arrangements can result in women making less money per hour and not advancing. Consider Europe, where many countries embrace family-friendly policies like generous paid leave and part-time worker protections—but women in the workforce in those countries are also more likely to have been "mommy-tracked" into less demanding, lower-level, part-time jobs.

That may be because employers are hesitant to hire women if they believe women are more likely to take advantage of such family-friendly policies and be "in and out of the labor force," explains one labor economist. How to combat the problem? More gender equality when it comes to family policies could help—if men start taking paternity leave regularly, the stigma associated with flexible work will be reduced. "Family-friendly policies may be the best way to encourage women to remain in the workforce, but as long as these kinds of alternative arrangements and career paths are overwhelmingly utilized by women and ignored by men, workers will pay a price for taking advantage of them," Gunn writes. Click for her full column.

  (Shutterstock)
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