Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Working moms multitask more and have worse time doing so than dads

01.12.2011
Not only are working mothers multitasking more frequently than working fathers, but their multitasking experience is more negative as well, according to a new study in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

"Gender differences in multitasking are not only a matter of quantity but, more importantly, quality," said Shira Offer, the lead author of the study and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. "Our findings provide support for the popular notion that women are the ultimate multitaskers and suggest that the emotional experience of multitasking is very different for mothers and fathers."

In terms of quantity, the study found that working mothers spend about 10 more hours per week multitasking than do working fathers, 48.3 hours per week for moms compared to 38.9 for dads.

"This suggests that working mothers are doing two activities at once more than two-fifths of the time they are awake, while working fathers are multitasking more than a third of their waking hours," said study coauthor Barbara Schneider, the John A. Hannah Chair and University Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Department of Sociology at Michigan State University.

But the authors said an even bigger issue than the time discrepancy is the difference in the way multitasking makes working mothers and fathers feel. "There is a considerable disparity in the quality of the multitasking experience for working moms and dads," Offer said. "For mothers, multitasking is—on the whole—a negative experience, whereas it is not for fathers. Only mothers report negative emotions and feeling stressed and conflicted when they multitask at home and in public settings. By contrast, multitasking in these contexts is a positive experience for fathers."

The Offer-Schneider study relies on data from the 500 Family Study, a multi-method investigation of how middle-class families balance family and work experiences. The 500 Family Study collected comprehensive information from 1999 to 2000 on families living in eight urban and suburban communities across the United States. Most parents in the 500 Family Study are highly educated, employed in professional occupations, and work, on average, longer hours and report higher earnings than do middle-class families in other nationally representative samples. Although the 500 Family Study is not a representative sample of families in the United States, it reflects one of the most time pressured segments of the population. The Offer-Schneider study uses a subsample of 368 mothers and 241 fathers in dual-earner families from the 500 Family Study.

According to Offer and Schneider, their study shows that at least some of the difference in the way multitasking makes working mothers and fathers feel is related to the types of activities they perform.

"When they multitask at home, for example, mothers are more likely than fathers to engage in housework or childcare activities, which are usually labor intensive efforts," Offer said. "Fathers, by contrast, tend to engage in other types of activities when they multitask at home, such as talking to a third person or engaging in self-care. These are less burdensome experiences."

The study found that among working mothers, 52.7 percent of all multitasking episodes at home involve housework, compared to 42.2 percent among working fathers. Additionally, 35.5 percent of all multitasking episodes at home involve childcare for mothers versus 27.9 for fathers.

The authors also believe that multitasking—particularly at home and in public—is a more negative experience for working mothers than for fathers because mothers' activities are more susceptible to outside scrutiny.

"At home and in public are the environments in which most household- and childcare-related tasks take place, and mothers' activities in these settings are highly visible to other people," Schneider said. "Therefore, their ability to fulfill their role as good mothers can be easily judged and criticized when they multitask in these contexts, making it a more stressful and negative experience for them than for fathers."

Working fathers don't typically face these types of pressures, the authors said. "Although they are also expected to be involved in their children's lives and do household chores, fathers are still considered to be the family's major provider," Offer said. "As a result, fathers face less normative pressures and are under less scrutiny when they perform and multitask at home and in public."

So, what can be done to improve the situation for mothers? It's pretty simple—fathers need to step up.

"The key to mothers' emotional well-being is to be found in the behavior of fathers," Offer said. "I think that in order to reduce mothers' likelihood of multitasking and to make their experience of multitasking less negative, fathers' share of housework and childcare has to further increase."

Policymakers and employers can help facilitate this, the authors said. "Policymakers and employers should think about how to alter current workplace cultures, which constitute serious obstacles when it comes to getting fathers more involved in their families and homes," Offer said.

"For example, I think that fathers should have more opportunities to leave work early or start work late, so they can participate in important family routines; to take time off for family events; and to limit the amount of work they bring home, so they can pay undivided attention to their children and spouse during the evening hours and on weekends. The goal is to initiate a process that will alter fathers' personal preferences and priorities and eventually lead to more egalitarian norms regarding mothers' and fathers' parenting roles."

About the American Sociological Association and the American Sociological Review

The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. The American Sociological Review is the ASA's flagship journal.

The research article described above is available by request for members of the media. For a copy of the full study, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA's Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org

Daniel Fowler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asanet.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>