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Women and Men Consider the Work-Life Balance

When it comes to role models who shaped their career paths, men across the generations were most likely to credit their fathers. For women, their parents; influence has varied from one generation to the next.

| BY Donald Liebenson

Just because men don’t talk about work-life balance, doesn’t mean they don’t wrestle with it as much as women, according to a new Citigroup/LinkedIn survey of professional women and men.

This is the third “Today’s Professional Women’s Report” and for the first time included responses from men. Nearly eight-in-ten women surveyed about their biggest career and financial concerns reported that they have never heard a successful man talk about the difficulties of juggling a career and family. And yet “finding the right balance between work and family life” is the top concern of both women and men, the survey found. More than half of male respondents said they have heard other men engage in the work-life conversation, which indicates they are not sharing these concerns with women.

It’s the age-old question: What do men want? Nearly eight-in-10 of male respondents said that “having it all” included being in a “strong, loving marriage,” compared to 66 percent of women, while 86 percent said that this includes children, compared to 73 percent of women. Men are also more likely than women to describe themselves as “family-oriented.” Meanwhile, the survey found that the proportion of women who don’t prioritize relationships in their definition of success at all has almost doubled—from 5 percent to 9 percent—since last summer.

On the surface, this would seem to upend conventional wisdom, but Amanda Hess, writing in Slate, counters, “Men aren’t more ‘obsessed’ with having it all. They don’t have to be. Pursuing a family and a career requires less professional sacrifice for men than it does for women, so it’s easier to claim to prioritize both in their definition of success…They’re rarely even asked how they manage to juggle career with kids, so the question carries less weight.”

Given the choice between an increase in salary and office-life flexibility, what would you be willing to give up to achieve a work-life balance? Most of the professional surveyed initially said they would choose job perks that would enhance a work-life balance. When the salary increase offered passed the 20 percent benchmark, most men and women said they would take the money.

Gen Xers, hit hardest by the economic collapse and subsequent recession, also self-report lower levels of work-life balance compared to other generations, the survey found. When asked which benefits would even out the scale, the top two requests included flexible work hours and the opportunity to work from home.

These options are especially appreciated by women. A recent Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner survey found substantial support among women for a four-day work week (82 percent compared with 62 percent of men).

The survey also found:

  • When it comes to role models who shaped their career paths, men across the generations were most likely to credit their fathers. For women, their parents; influence has varied from one generation to the next, with Millennial women saying they were most influenced by their mothers, Gen X women by their fathers, and Baby Boomer women by a teacher, coach or guidance counselor.
  • Regrets—professional men and women have a few. Twenty-eight percent of men and one-fourth of women respondents said they would have spend more time trying to expand their skills earlier in their career. A near equal percentage (22% of men and 23 percent of women) wish they had focused more on building their professional networks).
  • 54% of men say their profession is related to what they wanted to do as a child, compared with 47 percent of women.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.