Women feel guilty about work-home intrusion

Women are more affected than men by the intrusion of work into their home-life through e-mails, phone calls and texts and report higher levels of psychological distress, according to new research.

Although women are equally adept at juggling the demands of work and home, they feel more guilt when contacted by bosses, colleagues and clients at home.

"This guilt seems to be at the heart of their distress," said Paul Glavin, of the University of Toronto and the lead author of the study.

The study

The scientists analysed information on 1,042 US workers nationwide. Their findings, which are published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviours, showed that for women the guilt persists even if the work intrusion does not interfere with their family life.

"Levels of distress and levels of guilt are low overall," said Scott Schieman, a co-author of the report and a professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.

"For women levels of guilt and distress seem to be correlated quite strongly with the frequency of contact. Women experience, on average, a rise in guilt and distress as you increase levels of this contact," he explained.

The findings

Men who received frequent work-related calls or texts outside working hours were less affected than women.

Schieman added that the findings were consistent, regardless of the age of the women, their marital or parental status or socioeconomic level.

He suggests that although women have become economic providers in dual-income households, they have different expectations from men over the boundaries separating work and family life.

"These forces may lead some women to question or negatively evaluate their family role performance when they're trying to navigate work issues at home." (Reuters Health/ March 2011)

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