Work-home blur takes big toll

Technology largely to blame

The eroding boundary between work
and family life, fuelled by constant availability via cell phone or email,
takes a greater emotional toll on women, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of
Toronto used data from more than 1,000 American workers to determine gender
differences in how men and women respond emotionally and psychologically to
increasing work-related contact outside of normal business hours.

Men were significantly less
distressed than women by frequent work-related contact via phone, email or
text, according to the study, published in the March issue of the Journal of
Health and Social Behavior.

Study co-author Scott Schieman, a
professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, said men and women may
perceive the work-family balance differently because of lingering perceptions
of gender roles.

“There may be some residual effect
of gender roles, but that’s purely speculative,” Mr. Schieman said. “I think
one of the main things [to focus on] was how men’s level of guilt seemed to be
the same at all levels of work contact … whereas women’s levels seemed to
rise in a significant way.”

The study also noted that although
men have taken on more responsibility at home over the past few decades, “women
continue to do the majority of domestic work and are still considered the
primary source of child care in the family.”