Workplace flexibility: do men face barriers?
Workplace flexibility is intended to promote workforce participation among women but recent research shows men also face barriers, especially within male-dominated workplaces.
Implementing Workplace Flexibility in Male-Dominated Workplaces
Workplace flexibility is intended to promote workforce participation among women but recent research shows men also face barriers when it comes to accessing flexible work arrangements, especially within male-dominated workplaces.
For this Faculty of Business and Economics-funded research project, the Department of Management and Marketing's Jesse Olsen is exploring the implementation of flexible workplace arrangements, with a particular focus on male dominated workplaces.
Flexibility in hours and location of work is promoted as an effective way of accommodating the needs of individuals, including family needs and lifestyle preferences. In many countries, including Australia, flexibility is seen as the best way to boost workforce participation among women, who often struggle against traditional societal expectations that they should be homemakers.
Recent Australian research suggests that the effective use of flexible work arrangements can increase engagement and commitment among women.
However, what is often overlooked is the fact that flexible work arrangements may also be used by men to negotiate traditional societal expectations that they serve as the family’s breadwinner, and to encourage cultural change in male-dominated contexts.
Indeed, as women increasingly shift from homemaker to breadwinner, the important work of child-rearing and caring for elderly parents must be redistributed, with workplace flexibility allowing for a more even distribution of this essential work.
But, despite these benefits, research shows men face barriers in their attempts to work flexibly and that their engagement and commitment decreases as a result of participating in flexible work arrangements.
For this project, Dr Olsen will examine flexible work in male-dominated workplaces compared to other workplaces, as well as the impact of flexibility policies and practices on organisational performance.
This research is significant from societal, organisational and individual standpoints.
From a societal standpoint, extending flexible work arrangements to men will be critical in ensuring that essential responsibilities around caring and homemaking are fulfilled and that women may truly see gender equality in the workplace.
From an organisational standpoint, allowing men to work flexibly will lead to greater gender diversity throughout the ranks of the organisation and allow all individuals to work to their full potential.
From an individual standpoint, extending the availability of flexible work arrangements to men is important to the wellbeing of those who are less comfortable with traditional gender roles, just as many women are.