Here’s how 24/7 U.S. work culture impacts parents

Employers are expecting their employees to always be just a phone call away and ready to drop things to fill in at the office. And it’s hurting families and working parents.

New studies released by Harvard show the 24/7 work culture in the U.S. has created a system that helps promote men while keeping women, many of whom are mothers, in the same job for years, according to Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times.

Two professors studied one company which employed significantly more men than women to determine what was making women quit their jobs more frequently. They found it was the two groups’ different responses to the constant work requirements that made all the difference, Miller reported.

Women tended to respond to the excessive work culture by taking part-time jobs or working pre-arranged flexible hours, while men would just work the hours they wanted without permission, choose local jobs and work from home, Miller reported.

Consequently, women were more likely to not be promoted while their male co-workers were.

Many expect that working mothers are more likely to switch to part-time than working dads because women have traditionally been expected to do so. This, combined with a lack of family-friendly policies, have long been an obstacle for working mothers.

This might be one reason the number of freelancers in the U.S. is growing. Jeff Wald wrote in Forbes that one in three workers in 2013 was a freelancer, and this number is expected to hit 50 percent of the working population by 2020.

Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, said in an article for Fast Company that 53 percent of freelancers are women because it fits their schedule better than traditional work schedules.

“This generation of women freelance workers represents transformative change,” she said. “Reacting to economic pressures and the ill-fitting office culture around them, they’ve struck out on their own. They’re harnessing technology to focus on work that they find rewarding, on a schedule that fits their lives, and on terms that dignify them as vital contributors to our economy.”

But even though working long, difficult hours can be detrimental to families, some employees believe working a demanding schedule is actually becoming a “status symbol,” Miller reported. As income increases, so does the number of hours employees work.

Miller reports that those who are in the 60th to 95th percentile for earnings worked 2,015 hours a year, while the lowest 20th percentile only worked 1,497 hours a year.In 2007, workers on average logged 1,868 hours over the course of the year, which is up 10.7 percent from 1979, Lawrence Mishel explained for the Economic Policy Institute. This is the same as working 4.5 extra 40-hour workweeks a year.

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