Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on April 04, 2010

Youngjoo Cha from the Cornell University, lead author of the study called, "Reinforcing Separate Spheres: The Effect of Spousal Overwork on Men's and Women's Employment in Dual-Earner Households" stated, "The norm of overwork systematically disadvantages women, who are less likely to work long hours because of the expectation that they will have primary care-giving responsibilities and do more housework than men."

It is common to place more emphasis on the man's career. Often, in cases when a couple relocates because of the man's career choices, it is generally left for the woman to find work that may not be as good as the job she quit.

This is primarily because women, despite empowerment, are still expected to do the majority of household chores and look after the children on top of their working day.

Data of families with dual sources of income analyzed
In a bid to understand the importance placed on a man’s career the researchers used data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau to examine 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessionals from the families with dual sources of income.

The analysis revealed that when looking solely at professional women, the chances of them quitting their job increases by more than half (51 percent) if their husbands work 60 hours or more per week.

Furthermore, the odds of them resigning rises to 112 percent when professional women have the added responsibility of bringing up children.

Career of men not impeded by wife’s work hours
However, the reverse was not found to be true. The likelihood of a man willing to quit his job, regardless of being a parent did not rise in order to accommodate the extended working hours of his spouse.

Ms Cha stated, "As long work-hours introduce conflict between work and family into many dual-earner families, couples often resolve conflict in ways that prioritize husbands' careers.

"This effect is magnified among workers in professional and managerial occupations, where the norm of overwork and the culture of intensive parenting tend to be strongest.

"The findings suggest that the prevalence of overwork may lead many dual-earner couples to return to a separate spheres arrangement - breadwinning men and homemaking women."

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Cornell University and the details are published in the April edition of American Sociological Review.

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