Women feel guilty bringing work home

Updated: Mar 09, 2011, 16:55 PM IST

Washington: Communication technologies are often seen as solutions to balancing work and family life.

However, a new study has suggested that receiving work-related contact at home takes a greater toll on women’s well being.

It found that women are more likely than men to feel guiltier and distressed when they get work-related contact at home through e-mails, phone calls and texts.

Using data from a national survey of American workers, the University of Toronto researchers asked study participants how often they were contacted outside the workplace by phone, email or text about work-related matters.

They found that women who were contacted frequently by supervisors, co-workers or clients reported higher levels of psychological distress than men who were contacted frequently.

“Initially, we thought women were more distressed by frequent work contact because it interfered with their family responsibilities more so than men,” said lead author Paul Glavin, a doctoral student at U of T.

“However, we found that women are able to juggle their work and family lives just as well as men, but they feel guiltier as a result of being contacted. This guilt seems to be at the heart of their distress,” he added.

The findings show that many women feel guilty dealing with work issues at home even when the work-related contact does not interfere with their family lives.

Men, on the other hand, are less likely to experience guilt when responding to work-related issues at home.

Co-author Scott Schieman said the findings suggested that men and women might still encounter different expectations over the boundaries separating work and family life – and these different expectations may have unique emotional consequences.

“Guilt seems to play a pivotal role in distinguishing women’s work-family experiences from men’s,” he said.