If you’re a woman, you’d better not be asking for a flexible work schedule. It’ll cost you, in more ways than one.
So says a Fortune article, which highlights a piece in the Harvard Business Review tying together multiple studies to reveal that women requesting flexible work schedules not only were denied that accommodation more often than men were, they were also regarded as less likable, less dependable and less dedicated to their jobs.
The report cites a 2014 experiment by Furman University sociologist Christin Munsch, in which transcripts of employee/human resources personnel interviews were shown to study participants, who were asked to evaluate the employee and to decide on how likely they would be to grant the request.
Gender and the reason for the request varied by transcript, with some employees asking for flexible hours because of childcare and others for nonfamily reasons. Disturbingly, participants were considerably more willing to grand flex time requests when they thought the requester was a man (70 percent, compared with just 57 percent for women).
But the request for flex time took another toll on women. The Munsch study found that “[a]lmost a quarter — 24.3 percent — [of participants] found the man to be ‘extremely likeable,’ compared to only 3 percent who found the woman to be ‘extremely likeable.’ And, only 2.7 percent found the man ‘not at all’ or ‘not very’ committed, yet 15.5 percent found the woman ‘not at all’ or ‘not very’ committed.”
Oh, and flex schedules also exerted a negative influence on women’s salaries. Fortune pointed out the findings of a 2016 study, in which it was found that although both sexes with flexible schedules made more money than colleagues working traditional schedules, men on flex time earned more — a lot more: 6,700 more euros per year than men with fixed schedules. Women with flex schedules, on the other hand, only earned 2,000 euros more per year than women with traditional schedules.
An HRDive report points out a study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey and Company indicates that women are aware of the potential handicaps presented by flex time: The women in the study “didn’t participate in flexibility programs,” the report says, “because they think it will hurt their careers.”