The New York Times had an interesting and informative article Sunday written by Tara Parker-Pope, “Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom.” Among the key points: flexible work arrangements and achieving a balance between work and family responsibilities are issues that are as important to men these days as they are to women.

The article spotlights a just-released study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family, “The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood Within a Career Context.” (See link to complete study in a PDF format below.)

Here’s from the NYT article:

Father’s Day brings this offering of a dubious milestone: Husbands are now just as stressed out as their harried wives.

For decades, the debate about balancing work and family life has been framed as an issue for women. Many studies have shown that motherhood is more taxing than fatherhood; mothers typically reported higher levels of unhappiness than women without children or men in general. Over the years, this disparity has helped fuel the gender wars, in policy debates and at home, often over a pile of dirty laundry.

Men, the truism went, did not do their share of the grocery shopping or diaper changing. They let women pull the double shift.

But several studies show that fathers are now struggling just as much — and sometimes even more — than mothers in trying to fulfill their responsibilities at home and in the office. Just last week, Boston College released a study called “The New Dad” suggesting that new fathers face a subtle bias in the workplace, which fails to recognize their stepped-up family responsibilities and presumes that they will be largely unaffected by children.

Other excerpts from the article include:

  • Fathers also seem more unhappy than mothers with the juggling act: In dual-earner couples, 59 percent of fathers report some level of “work-life conflict,” compared with about 45 percent of women, according to a 2008 report from the Families and Work Institute in New York.
  • “The conflict is newer to men, and it feels bigger than the same amount of conflict might feel to a woman,” notes Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute [and a member of the Corporate Voices Board of Trustees]. “Women have been doing it for a longer time, and they have more role models.”
  • It doesn’t help that work eats up more time. In 1970, about two-thirds of married couples had a spouse at home (usually the wife). But today, only 40 percent of families have a stay-at-home spouse to handle domestic demands during the workday. Couples now work a combined average of 63 hours a week, up from just 52.5 in 1970, according to a 2009 report on workplace flexibility from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Corporate Voices has long championed workplace flexibility as a management tool, and has helped the business community establish flexible workplace arrangements with its toolkits and studies. It published “Business Impacts of Flexibility: An Imperative for Expansion,” and also published a report showing these impacts also applied to hourly workers.  Both these studies show that workplace flexibility policies increase worker productivity and engagement, reduce turnover, and increase employee retention.