Guest blog: Women, men and work-life balance-are their issues similar?

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

By Constance Bates

Few workplace programs elicit as much anxiety and frustration for both management and employees than the work-life balance conversation. This concept may feel elusive to employers who strive to provide relevant resources for employees and to employees who feel defeated in achieving any semblance of satisfaction with this ideal.

Undoubtedly, discussions related to work-life balance are valid, especially with the widespread global technological advances of our society. We are hopelessly connected to our world 24 hours a day, where work and personal life are virtually seamless.

So, what causes us to "cringe" at the mere mention of work-life balance? Good question! Perhaps we can ease the tension and embrace a less ominous perception with a review of the historical context of its emergence.

Women and work-life balance

Women have always participated in the workplace at some level, dating back to the 1930s. During World War II, as men were called to duty, women held jobs to support the family. Afterwards, women retreated back to the home, but during the late 1960's re-entered the workplace as equals to their male counterpart.

Women labor statistics-1962 to 2012

The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor offers a synopsis of women in the workplace:

  • About 55 percent and 71 percent of mothers were in the workplace in 1962 and 2012 respectively.

  • Seven percent of women in 1962 completed four years or more of college in comparison to 31 percent in 2012.

  • In 1962, 48 percent of women completed high school, but 88 percent in 2012.

The start of work-life balance initiatives

During the height of employment advances, women were committed to the balance of personal and work responsibilities. In response, the government solutions included:

  • 1963-Equal Pay Act

  • 1964-Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • 1972-Title IX of the Education Amendment

  • 1978-Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Men and work-life balance

Such a rich and illustrative history of women in the workplace! The history for men is not as glamorous, as until the mid 1960s their role was defined as the "breadwinner." Family dynamics evolved significantly over the decades and men are now more invested in family life.

The research is sparse, as related to men's experiences with work-life balance. According to a Forbes article, Real Men Don't Need Work Life Balance, 48 percent of men feel accessing family benefits carries a stigma that signals they are not serious about success.

Policy implications

Work-life balance has roots as an issue for women. However, the concept has morphed into a family issue, primarily due to the changing, more-involved role of men in the home. Creative approaches to encourage regular, on-going conversations without fear of reprisal is indicated, especially for men. To accomplish this goal is not easy. Inclusive workplace programming is crucial, as women continue to achieve equality in the workplace and men continue to achieve equality in their home life!

Constance Bates is the owner of Take 5 Concierge, a workplace concierge service specializing in enhancing employee work-life balance through programs, coaching and seminars. Her enriching years as a private practice therapist and coach allows for an infusion of first-hand knowledge to facilitate winning strategies for employees to achieve a healthy family life and productive work focus. Learn more at:take5concierge.comor by contacting her at (513) 545-4479 or