Speed Read

  • The increasing uptake of flexible work arrangements by men challenges stereotypes that flexibility is for women, or more specifically, for mothers only
  • Unconscious biases surrounding flexibility make it difficult for men who want to contribute equally at work and at home 
  • All of us need flexibility at different points in our lives. When organisations embed flexible working into their overall culture, it’s typically valued by everyone

A common assumption made around flexible working arrangements is women want them more than men do – particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of mothers. But the increasing uptake of parental leave and flexible work arrangements by fathers in Australia is challenging that often automatic association. However, that’s not to say men don’t experience prejudice when it comes to requesting parental leave and flexibility. The long-held stereotype associating men with the “family breadwinner” role often hinders male workers’ requests. 

Bain & Company and Chief Executive Women found in their 2016 report The Power of Flexibility: A Key Enabler to Boost Gender Parity and Employee Engagement while women who work flexibly are more confident and committed to career progression than those who don’t, the story is different for men. This is likely to be the result of the perception challenges they face. Another study When Equal Isn’t Really Equal: The Masculine Dilemma of Seeking Work Flexibility found that men who seek flexibility for caregiving roles, are perceived as less masculine and rated higher on feminine traits.

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