Academic Workplace Bias Against Working Parents Hurts Overall Department Morale

Researchers at Rice University in Houston and the University of California at San Diego, have published a study that finds that workplace bias directed against scientists and engineers in an academic setting who have flexible work arrangements to accommodate for family life my increase employee dissatisfaction, even for employees who don’t have flexible work arrangements. The study found that people who reported an awareness of the flexibility stigma in their departments — regardless of whether they are parents themselves — were less interested in staying at their jobs, more likely to want to leave academia for industry and less satisfied with their jobs than those who did not report a flexibility stigma in their department.

maryblair-loy2Mary Blair-Loy, an associate professor of sociology at University of California at San Diego and a co-author of the study, stated, “Workplaces where this bias exists are more likely to have a toxic culture that hurts the entire department, not only in terms of work-life balance but also retention and job satisfaction, which may affect department productivity.”

CechErin Cech, an assistant professor of sociology at Rice University and the lead author of the study, said “Dealing with work-life balance issues is not just about instituting the right polices, but it is also about undermining the stigma that comes along with using those policies.”

The study, “Consequences of Flexibility Stigma Among Academic Scientists and Engineers,” appeared in the journal Work and Occupations. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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