Study shows one way men are at a disadvantage in the American workplace

Young student works on his laptop at homeShutterstock / Jack FrogMen are twice as likely as women to have their request for work flexibly rejected.

Paternity leave has been in the spotlight recently, after companies like Netflix, Microsoft, JP Morgan, and Amazon upped their parental leave policies for both new mums
and new dads — and after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took two months off when his daughter Max was born.

But a recent article from ABC Australia says men still have a ways to go before they can get the same work flexibility as women.

Reporter Katie Higgins highlights a statistic from a 2015 study conducted by business consulting firm Bain & Co. that says men are twice as likely as women to have their request for work flexibly rejected.

The study had 1,030 respondents, of which 58% were female and 42% were male. One male participant said he was told by his manager that “part-time is traditionally only something we make work for women,” while another man was told he wouldn’t be able to get promoted while working part-time.

One of the four authors of the study, Meredith Hellicar, said in an interview with Radio National that men are “experiencing similar forms of discrimination and prejudice that women experienced 10 or 15 years ago.”

The University of Melbourne’s Jesse Olsen told Higgins that society still has these “traditional views about roles where a woman is a caretaker and much more likely to be a homemaker … and where a man is more likely to be a breadwinner and go to work full-time.”

He continued: “That’s kind of ingrained in us from a long time ago and we’re trying to change that, but it’s very hard to change assumptions and values and those things can impact us subconsciously.”

Bobbi Thomason, a senior fellow in the management department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and contributor, tells Business Insider that the study’s findings do not surprise her and
says this expectation hurts women by placing the full burden of household duties on them — and it hurts men by making it harder for them to get the right schedule that allows them to be more engaged at home.

She says to remedy the problem, leaders need to shift their mindset from valuing facetime during set work hours to valuing results — no matter when the work gets done. “Data suggests that when structured correctly, some flexible hours and time off can actually improve productivity, not harm it.”

Second, she says, companies need to offer parental leave and flexible hours to both men and women, and employees need to take advantage. If and when these two practices become the norm, then the stigma that taking flexible hours leads to a stagnant career will begin to dissipate, Thomason concludes.

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