Why Do I Have to Work the Second Shift?

This past week on the job, I spent most of my efforts researching causes of the work-family conflict. Though it is not something that has been determined exactly, I did read many studies that leaned towards the same sort of ideas of where the work-family conflict develops. Along with this journal reading, I also finished The Second Shift, by Arlie Hochschild, and learned more about all of the components of the work-family conflict. It’s not just work and family ;)

The journal articles I read this past week suggest more of the same trends as the articles from the week before: The work-family conflict seems to be widely a woman’s issue more than a man’s, and the conflict seems to be centered around a difference in fundamental beliefs about gender and gender roles. This all means, more or less, that, while the work-family conflict ahs the ability to affect everyone in a family, women (as mothers and wives) are experiencing the most role strain. The reason attributed to this in the studies I read was simply because of a difference in fundamental beliefs about gender. But why would this only affect women and not men? Arlie Hochschild had some light to shed here.

As I read the final chapters of Hochschild’s book, I found her coming to the same conclusion as the studies I had read: More often, women (wives and mothers) experience more role strain as a difference in gender ideologies between wife and husband. But Hochschild took it a step further and explained my earlier question: Why only women? Hochschild made it very clear. Her fieldwork all pointed to the same problems, and one major problem was that women (more often than men) were being forced to change their gender ideologies to match their husband’s. This meant that women who thought it was important to share married to men with traditional “housewife” opinions of how to handle the work at home had to alter their ideas about how work should be divided than their husbands. This was a major cause of strain for these wives and mothers.

Another thing to consider here is what is the work-family balance? Work = work, but family = housework, kids, dinner, marriage, relatives, plans, etc.. The balance is NOT equal, and with this kind of gender ideology bending so many wives are forced into, they are managing all of it, while their husbands only have to work on work and a few household tasks. This is a major contributor to the role strain experienced by wives and mothers.

These new ideas and developments in the work-family conflict definitely gave me more insight to the problem. I’d be interested to see if there have been any studies or works done for suggestions to helping resolve work-family conflict. I’d also be interested to read any opinions on the matter: is this a temporary problem or has this been ongoing?