Gender Convergence and Work Productivity
Marc is accompanying M to a birthday party this afternoon while T naps upstairs and I get a chance to catch up on the world of equal sharing-related news.
There is an interesting article in the New York Times from 5/31 that describes new research and ideas from thought-leaders on gender studies - experts such as Kathleen Gerson (New York University), Barbara Risman (University of Illinois) and Ellen Galinsky (Family and Work Institute).
The latest research shows 'women and men are becoming more alike in their attitudes toward balancing life at home and at work. The gender revolution is not over....it has just developed into "gender convergence."' Gender convergence is defined as 'an ever-increasing similarity in how men and women live and what they want from their lives,' per Dr. Risman and her co-investigator Dr. Molly Monahan Lang.
Gender convergence is a core component of equally shared parenting - not to be confused with genderlessness. We believe in a world where men and women maintain their own styles and approaches to parenthood, breadwinning, housework and recreation, but do so as true equals. Both flex their careers toward balanced lives over high-power careers, and both value time and relationships with their children and spouse over money. Or, as Dr. Gerson states, 'both sexes aspired to the same ideal: "a balance between work and family."'
On a separate note, but also in the New York Times, Lisa Belkin's column this week describes all the time that workers waste each day. She concludes that all our Internet-surfing or searching through our cluttered desks for lost papers is actually time well spent, giving the brain downtime to prepare for a surge of productivity later on. This may be true, or perhaps we really are frittering away our days. But the most interesting part of her piece is statistics from a Microsoft study that label 16 of the typical 45 hours in a workweek to be wasted ones, or from a Salary.com study that finds workers truly work only 3 days out of 5 per week (wasting the other two). Ms. Belkin writes '"The longer you work, the less efficient you are," said Bob Kustka, the founder of Fusion Factor, a productivity and time-management consulting firm in Norwell, Mass.'
To me, this means that perhaps the 40 (or 45 or 50 or 70) hour work week ain't working for businesses. I wonder if there is a productivity study that pinpoints the ideal number of work hours in a day or week - the point at which an employee is working enough time to be an engaged, up-to-date and knowledgeable employee but yet not so much that productivity per hour starts to melt. Does anyone know of such a study? Could it be that the the ideal worker is actually someone who logs, say, 25-35 hours per week? Hmmm.... At these reduced hours, perhaps one could legitimately lead a balanced life without a guilty conscience, and businesses could stop picking up the full tab. Just an (unproven) thought.