When Work Calls Home: Working Women’s Guilt

So you’re at home making dinner and helping your children with their homework when your boss calls. If you’re a woman and you take the call, chances are you’re going to feel pretty guilty about it, so suggests a new study. The researchers found that trying to handle work and family after hours is a juggling act that causes more stress and guilt for women than men.
The technology that allows us to connect anywhere and anytime should make life easier but the constant communication can interrupt a healthy work-life balance. In the “Work, Stress and Health Survey” researchers asked working adults to report how frequently they received work calls at home and to describe their stress levels associated with these intrusions. The more work-related communications women received at home, the more guilt and distress they experienced. Regardless of their jobs, income levels and responsibilities at home, women consistently reported more feelings of guilt than men when the office calls at home. Conversely, men who received work communications at home reported no increase in stress.

This guilt can become a pervasive source of psychological and physical stress for women. So precisely why do women feel so much guilt associated with the blurring of work and home responsibilities? Researchers theorize that even though men have become more active in caring for children and the home, women’s expectations of themselves seem to be more deeply influenced by traditional gender roles. So while women make leaps and bounds in the board room, there is still that nagging feeling of guilt that may take another generation or two to quell.

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