Women in Britain are happier with ‘non-traditional’ domestic arrangements, according to new Economic and Social Research Council funded research at City University. ‘Our findings contradict Neo-Conservative claims that women would be happier if they went back to being traditional housewives,’ says Professor Rosemary Crompton, who led the research. ‘The recipe for personal happiness, satisfaction with the family and lower stress at home seems to be a combination of liberal attitudes to work outside the home and a fairer division of household chores.’
The City University research, which looked at women’s lives in Britain and Portugal, is the latest stage in a comparative study of families, employment and work-life balance in Britain and Europe. The results show that work-life conflict is closely related to the way people work, for example the availability of part-time jobs and the culture of long working hours, as much as to gender politics.
In the UK the researchers found a marked correlation between women’s stress levels and their ambition. ‘Women who are climbing the professional or managerial ladder in Britain are expected to put in long working hours and they have limited access to good quality child-care and domestic help,’ says Rosemary Crompton. ‘In Portugal promotion for professional and managerial women means moving up through an ordered hierarchy. Such women also have shorter working hours than similar women in Britain, and wider access to paid domestic help.’
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