Work-Life Balance: Women at All Income Levels Are Miserable

What Women Really Think
Feb. 16 2010 12:21 PM

Work-Life Balance: Women at All Income Levels Are Miserable


As Heather Boushey and Joan C. Williams put it in their new report, " The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict " [PDF], this issue is "remarkably democratic." Women from all three levels of income-categorized by Boushey and Williams as professionals (median family income of $148,000 a year), the "missing middle" (median family income of $64,000 a year), and the poor (median family income of $19,000 a year)-are unhappy about the number of hours they're working and the lack of flexibility in their professional lives.


Everything is the worst for the poor-they have jobs with the least flexibility and their financial status can be completely derailed by a sick child or elderly parent. Boushey and Williams open their report with a truly awful story of McDonald's cashier Kim Braithwaite, whose baby sitter was late one night. Braithwaite knew that if she were tardy to her job, she would lose it. So she left her two children, ages 9 and 1, at home, assuming the babysitter would show up shortly after she left. Instead, a fire broke out in Braithwaite's apartment building, killing both her children.

Of course Braithwaite's story is an extreme example. But the systemic issues behind her tragedy are spread across all classes. Lisa Belkin says, in her post about the study on the New York Times blog Motherlode , "[I]t is no more or less important for professional parents to feel secure about who takes care of their children while they work as it is for poor parents." Boushey and Williams offer up concrete policy suggestions for the government and corporations in four areas, Belkin notes: workplace flexibility; short-term, episodic, and extended time off; child care, after-school care, and adult care; and addressing family-responsibilities discrimination. Since today is a snow day for many school-age kids, issues of emergency child care are particularly on the minds of many parents today. How are you coping? And what about your particular situation could be improved?

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.



The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 3:59 PM The Trailer for Taken 3 Is Here, and Guess Who’s on His Phone Again
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.