The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

January 7, 2011


Unemployment drops sharply to 9.4%

Neil Irwin • Washington Post • January 7, 2011

“The unemployment rate plummeted in December, as more Americans indicated they were working, according to a government report released Friday that offers new confirmation that the economy is clawing its way out of the deep downturn. [. . .] The fall in the unemployment rate was driven by two factors of roughly equal scale: Some 260,000 people dropped out of the labor force entirely, while 297,000 more people reported themselves to be employed.”

Where the Jobs Are: The Right Spots in the Recovery

Bill Saporito • Time • January 6, 2011

“What’s more, the ‘he-cession,’ as some have labeled it, will linger like a bad cold. Men represent 60% of the long-term unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The construction industry shed 2 million jobs in the past three years and isn’t poised to restore all that many in 2011.  [. . .] Women have the edge over men because they are better educated and they dominate the parts of the employment universe that are expanding the most (namely, health and education). Women’s share of these jobs will likely increase, given that more women are earning college degrees than men are, by a 3-to-2 margin. Women already hold 51.5% of high-paying management and professional positions.”

Women in the labor force, 1970-2009

• Bureau of Labor Statistics - The Editor's Desk • January 5, 2011

“Women’s labor force participation rate peaked at 60 percent in 1999, following several decades of growth in women’s labor market participation.  In 2009, the overall unemployment rate for women was 8.1 percent: of the 72 million women in the labor force, approximately 6 million were unemployed.”

Job Shop: Career re-entry

Kim Carrigan • FOX 25 Boston • January 4, 2011

“If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you may be thinking about what it would look like for you to get back into the work place once your kids are grown or whenever, if ever you make that decision.  Well, for those of you who decided that this is the year, we have some great advice.”


Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs: An Underutilized Cost-Cutting Strategy in a Globalized World

Joan C. Williams & Penelope Huang • Center for WorkLife Law •

“The central message of this report is that even employers who consider it infeasible to enhance work-life fit by offering additional benefits can gain their bottom lines by enhancing schedule effectiveness.”


Putting Family Before Work

Lisa Belkin • New York Times - Motherlode • January 5, 2011

“Hypothetical scenario:  You are a valued employee. You have a long-planned vacation coming up, but an unexpected work crisis arises just as you are about to leave town. You have been working unrelenting hours all year, and you have promised your children you will take them away over Christmas. There are others in your company who can handle the crisis, and you will be constantly reachable by phone.  Do you go?”

Why Baby Boomers Won’t Reinvent Retirement

Sydney Lagier • U.S. News and World Report - On Retirement • January 5, 2011

“Previous AARP and Merrill Lynch studies over the last decade reported that more than 70 percent of boomers expect to work past age 65. Besides the financial motivation, most aging boomers expressed a desire to continue working in order to stay mentally and physically active.  This is where attitudes may be shifting, according to the 2010 AARP study. Only 31 percent of the boomers who are approaching 65 this year are still actually working full or part time.”

Are Working Parents Wusses?

Rachel Emma Silverman • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • January 5, 2011

“In significant ways, working parents – both men and women—have it much easier than in the past, with laws and policies that protect against discrimination and far more professional opportunities, especially for women. On the home front, it’s much more acceptable for men to split child-rearing and household tasks with their partners. Technology has eased life for many working parents, allowing them to have much more flexibility in their schedules and to work remotely – although tech advances also mean that some managers expect work to be done anytime, anywhere.”

Regrets of a stay-at-home mom

Katy Read • Salon • January 5, 2011

“And though I have tried to scrub age-revealing details from my résumé, let’s just say my work history is long enough to be a liability, making me simultaneously overqualified and underqualified.  But my biggest handicap may be my [. . .] my own kids.  Just having them is bad enough. Research shows that mothers earn 4 to 15 percent less than non-mothers with comparable jobs and qualifications, that as job candidates, mothers are perceived as less competent and committed than non-mothers (fathers, in contrast, rate higher than men without kids).”

Keeping Women in Science on a Tenure Track

Steven Greenhouse • New York Times - Economix • January 5, 2011

“More women are obtaining Ph.D.’s in science than ever before, but those women — largely because of pressures from having a family — are far more likely than their male counterparts to ‘leak’ out of the research science pipeline before obtaining tenure at a college or university.  That’s the conclusion of a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who warned that the loss of these scientists — together with the increased research capabilities of Asian and European countries — may threaten America’s pre-eminence in science.”

“Recently, I sat down in the West Wing of the White House with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, to discuss the Council’s efforts on workplace flexibility, equal pay, violence against women, and the overall state of gender parity in the United States.”

Global News

The myth of work-life balance

Barbara Moses • Globe and Mail, Canada • January 6, 2011

“When I ask people in workshops, of all ages and at all levels, what they don’t like about their jobs, invariably they complain, rote style, about the lack of work-life balance. Bemoaning lack of balance has become a national pastime, especially at New Year’s resolution time. But I (and I suspect many others) am tired of the hand-wringing. These complaints of overwhelming busyness sound like a reflexive Canadian whinge.”