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?

March 29, 2011


Whose turn is it?

Beth Teitell • Boston Globe • March 29, 2011

“The lousy economy and mothers’ increasingly high-powered participation in the workforce have combined to heighten the tension over something as simple as a child’s sore throat or a few inches of snow. […] The increased economic pressure comes at a time when almost three quarters of mothers are working, according to a report released this month by the White House, ‘Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.’ From 1975 to 2000, the labor force participation rate of mothers with children under age 18 rose from 47 percent to a high of 73 percent, the report said. This rate fell to about 71 percent in 2004, where it has remained through 2009, the study found.”

Justices Take Up Key Issue in Wal-Mart Bias Suit

Adam Liptak • New York Times • March 29, 2011

“At issue in Tuesday’s arguments is not whether Wal-Mart, the country’s largest retailer and biggest private employer, discriminated against women who worked there. For now, the question before the justices in the case, Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, No. 10-277, is whether hundreds of thousands of female workers have enough in common to join together in a single lawsuit.  The plaintiffs’ theory is that a centralized companywide policy gave local managers too much discretion in pay and promotion decisions, leaving Wal-Mart vulnerable to gender stereotypes. The plaintiffs have presented sworn statements and statistics to support their claim.”

The Student Parent Trap

Kay Steiger • American Prospect • March 28, 2011

“Student parents like Rooney make up about a quarter of all postsecondary students in the United States, according to a new report released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The report estimates that of the total of 3.9 million student parents in the country, more than half are low-income. About 12 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States are single parents, and of those, more than three-quarters are low-income. The vast majority of them are women.  In many ways, schools have been slow to accommodate the needs of these students with services like on-campus child-care centers or student-parent support organizations.”

‘Mommy Track’ Without Shame

Virginia Postrel • Wall Street Journal • March 26, 2011

“By the time they turned 40, between 21% and 27% had both careers and children—up from 13% to 18% among women who graduated between 1966 and 1979. (About three-quarters of both groups had kids.)  Most of the gains came from new work patterns that no longer forced women to make an all-or-nothing choice. […]  Nor are highly educated women ‘opting out.’  In a study of Harvard graduates co-written with Lawrence F. Katz, Prof. Goldin found that women with children left the labor force for no more than two years altogether, with younger women (graduating from 1989 to 1992) taking less time than their elders. A third of all female graduates worked part-time, however, compared to less than 10% of men.”

GOP Prescription: Spending Cuts and Lower Wages Equal More Jobs

Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley • National Journal • March 25, 2011

“For example, the paper predicts that cutting the number of public employees would send highly skilled workers job hunting in the private sector, which in turn would lead to lower labor costs and increased employment. But ‘lowering labor costs’ is economist-speak for lowering wages — does the GOP want to be in the position of advocating for lower wages for voters who work in the private sector?”


Tiger Mom … Meet Panda Dad

Alan Paul • Wall Street Journal - Ideas Market • March 29, 2011

“Call me the Panda Dad; I am happy to parent with cuddliness, but not afraid to show some claw.  Though I have had primary child care duties since our eldest son was born 13 years ago, I too have always worked, sometimes juggling a variety of demanding deadlines with an increasingly complex family schedule. As a result, controlled chaos reigns in our house – and it works for us, even if this has befuddled some friends and family members and sent weak-kneed babysitters scurrying for the door.”

Unemployment’s Rising Toll on Families

Catherine Rampell • New York Times - Economix • March 28, 2011

“Last year, nearly one in eight families included an unemployed person, the highest proportion since the Labor Department began keeping track in 1994. […]Of all families, 12.4 percent included an unemployed person, up from 12 percent in 2009, the department observed in a recent report. […] Of all […] 14.2 percent had only a female adult member (the wife or single mother) employed. That’s up from 14 percent in 2009.”

Having a Bad Job Is Worse for Mental Health Than No Job At All

Vicki Salemi • Psychology Today - Big Career Corner • March 28, 2011

“Results from a seven year study showed that although unemployed people experienced significantly poorer mental health than people who were employed, they actually experienced superior mental health compared to people who had a job with very poor quality. Furthermore, the mental health of people in low-satisfying jobs continued to deterioriate over time.”

Can Home-Based Entrepreneurs Be Stay-at-Home Parents, Too?

Sarah E. Needleman • Wall Street Journal - In Charge • March 28, 2011

“Ms. Perkett says parenting and working from home don’t mix. ‘People think they’ll stick (their kids) in front of the TV,’ she says, but adds that the move isn’t practical or fair. ‘It’s nearly impossible to work productively and watch your children at the same time. And it’s not good for the child because they’re vying for your attention and they can’t get it.’”

Global News

Working mothers spend 81 minutes a day looking after their children

Laura Donnelly • Telegraph • March 27, 2011

“It is the dilemma facing every working mother - how to devote enough time to their children, while juggling career demands with household chores.  Now, a new study has disclosed that in Britain, those who work outside the home spend on average one hour 21 minutes a day looking after their families - including meal times.  Stay-at-home mothers managed almost twice as much time directly caring for their children, with 2 hours 35 minutes dedicated to activities like meals, bathtime and playing games, according to the research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.”

Just had a baby? Welcome to the 1950s

Rebecca Asher • Guardian • March 26, 2011

“When a couple chooses to have children, all the gains women have supposedly made over the past few decades vanish, as the time machine of motherhood transports us back to the 1950s. Today, more young women than men stay on at school and college beyond 16. They’re more likely to study for and get vocational qualifications. And in 2008/2009, for the first time, just over half of women between 17 and 30 entered higher education in the UK. As a consequence, there are excited forecasts of young women’s earnings overtaking men’s by the middle of the century. Yet giving birth and breastfeeding permanently define a woman’s life, and differentiate it from a man’s.  Even when mothers return to paid work after maternity leave, the responsibility for the domestic chores accrued in that time often remains with them.”

Happy? Statisticians Aren’t Buying It

Carl Bialik • Wall Street Journal • March 26, 2011

“Governments, academics and pollsters are hot on the trail of happiness.  U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has launched an initiative to measure the national mood in a way that isn’t captured by traditional economic statistics. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German legislators are looking into similar programs. U.S. government researchers and Gallup pollsters are asking hundreds of thousands of Americans each year how satisfied they are with their lives.”