Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Held Back by His Hours

Married men who work long hours may place subtle pressure on their wives to quit their jobs, but the reverse is not usually true.

If the husband works more than 60 hours a week, his wife is 44 percent more likely to leave her position than other women, according to a Cornell University researcher who presented at the American Sociological Association convention last week. But men whose wives work long hours are no more likely to quit their jobs than other men, according to author Youngjoo Cha, a doctoral candidate in sociology.

"The norm of overwork systematically disadvantages women, who are less likely to work long hours because of the expectation that they will have primary caregiving responsibilities and do more housework than men," Cha wrote. Her research, based on Census Bureau data on dual-earning couples from 1995 to 2000, found nearly one-third of husbands worked 60-plus hours a week, compared with 12 percent of wives.

A professional woman is caught in a bind, Cha said: Her own job may demand long hours and yet her husband also expects support. She feels pressure, and quits -- and thus workplace bias hits home.

-- Vickie Elmer

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