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Is Flexibility Feminine? Penalizing Men Who Request a Family Leave

Monday, June 17, 2013 8:08 am EDT

As traditional gender roles continue to melt away, both men and women are increasingly trying to balance work and family commitments; however, research shows that men who request family leave from work face a stigma which may damage their future careers.

The research, published in a special issue of the Journal of Social Issues, reveals how men are not only seen as ‘poor workers’ for failing to put their career over the interest of their family, but may also suffer ‘femininity stigma.’ Men may be seen as ‘weak and uncertain’ and lacking in supposedly male traits of being competitive and ambitious.

The study is part of a special issue, The Flexibility Stigma. Papers include:

  • ‘The all-or-nothing workplace: Flexibility stigma and “opting out” among professional-managerial women’, Pamela Stone & Lisa Ackerly Hernandez
  • ‘Stereotyping low-wage mothers who have work and family conflicts’, Lisa Dodson
  • ‘Fathers and the flexibility stigma’, Scott Coltrane, Elizabeth C. Miller, Tracy DeHaan, & Lauren Stewart
  • ‘Workplace mistreatment of middle class workers based on sex, parenthood, and caregiving’, Jennifer L. Berdahl & Sue H. Moon
  • ‘Ask and ye shall receive? The dynamics of employer-provided flexible work options and the need for public policy’, Victoria L. Brescoll, Jennifer Glass, & Alexandra Sedlovskaya

The special issue can be found at


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