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?

August 22, 2011


Social Security disability on verge of insolvency

Stephen Ohlemacher • Associated Press • August 22, 2011

“Laid-off workers and aging baby boomers are flooding Social Security’s disability program with benefit claims, pushing the financially strapped system toward the brink of insolvency.  Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs and can’t find new ones in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs.  The stampede for benefits is adding to a growing backlog of applicants - many wait two years or more before their cases are resolved - and worsening the financial problems of a program that’s been running in the red for years.”

Web Surfing Helps at Work, Study Says

Rachel Emma Silverman • Wall Street Journal • August 22, 2011

“Don’t feel guilty about browsing the Internet at work—turns out it may actually improve your performance. According to a new study, Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails, let alone working straight through with no rest at all.”

Stay-at-home moms have the hardest job

Shari Roan • Los Angeles Times • August 20, 2011

“Women who stay at home raising children are more likely than working mothers to have symptoms of depression, a new study finds.  But working mothers who strongly believe they should be able to have fulfilling and successful work and family lives are probably setting themselves up for disappointment too. The study found that those working women with a ‘supermom’ complex are more likely to feel frustration and guilt compared to working mothers who expect difficulties balancing work and family life.”

Shift work may have little effect on pregnancy

• Reuters • August 19, 2011

“Looking at 23 studies involving thousands of women, researchers found that, overall, shift work was not strongly linked to the risk of preterm labor, versus the standard 9-to-5 job.  Women working night or rotating shifts did have a slightly higher chance of having a baby who was underweight or “small for gestational age”—meaning small for the baby’s sex and the week of pregnancy during which he or she was born.  Still, the evidence was not strong enough to make ‘confident conclusions,’ the researchers report in the obstetrics journal BJOG.”

Bloomberg Discrimination-Suit Ruling Renews Work-Life Debate

Elissa Gootman • New York Times • August 18, 2011

“A few pages from the end of a 64-page legal decision dismissing claims that Bloomberg L.P. had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against new mothers and mothers-to-be, Judge Loretta A. Preska set aside the legalese to offer some blunt remarks on a topic dear to the hearts of many working parents (and those who choose not to be). ‘The law does not mandate “work-life balance,”’ she wrote, in a decision issued on Wednesday. ‘In a company like Bloomberg, which explicitly makes all-out dedication its expectation, making a decision that preferences family over work comes with consequences.’”


Tenure Tracks and Ticking Clocks

Kristen Ghodsee • Sloan Work and Family • August 22, 2011

“Women who are busy balancing their work and family lives are very strategic and protective of their time; that is what has allowed them to ‘do it all.’  This means that their voices are rarely heard in these discussions, but it is precisely these women who could undermine the seemingly ubiquitous perception that you can’t have your babies and your tenure too.”

Maternity leave: U.S. lags far behind other industrialized countries

Amanda Brozana • Washington Times - Communities • August 21, 2011

“In 2007, the most recent year statistics were available, four in ten women giving birth were single, making their income the only income. Those who do have male partners in the baby’s life may find that while the fathers are willing to help financially, they are unable to because of a downturn in our economy that has disproportionately put men out of work, again leaving new working moms with the full responsibility. Employed fathers who do step up find themselves the sole wage earner in a nation where dual income is not just the standard but often times the necessity.  Without assistance in the first few weeks and months after the birth of a child, mothers are almost forced to return to work, sometimes earlier than medically advised.”

Free to Choose: Does Our Culture of Individualism Harm Working Moms?

Melissa J. Anderson • Glass Hammer • August 18, 2011

“‘In our research, we sought to determine how the very idea of “opting out,” or making a choice to leave the workplace, may be maintaining these social and structural barriers by making it more difficult to recognize gender discrimination.’  According to the research, women who described their career breaks as the result a personal choice were less likely to identify examples of discrimination and structural barriers to advancement. Choice-focused women were blind to societal and environmental disadvantages that may have influenced their career trajectory.”

Bloomberg Case: Tough Luck for Working Moms

Michelle Gerdes • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • August 18, 2011

“By Judge Preska’s logic even the most dedicated, career-driven mother is going to be penalized for taking time away from work to have a baby. During pregnancy there is morning sickness, fatigue and doctors’ appointments. Then there is labor and recovery. Then for many moms there is the time-consuming task of nursing and pumping.  So, by my read, Judge Preska is saying:  If you decide to have a baby, your career will suffer.”

Global News

“Lord Davies, who earlier this year reviewed boardroom equality for the government, was criticised for failing to recommend a compulsory quota system to improve representation of women at the highest level. But it seems that Davies’s mere threats of further action if companies did not get their act together have paid off anyway.  According to analysis conducted by the Observer, Britain’s biggest companies have doubled the number of women they are recruiting to their boards in the past six months.”