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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Articles of Note: Corgi Catches, Nov. 4, 2007

We dig through databases, online journals, an e-learning magazines for online learning articles of interest. In this weekly series, we present a few articles that you might find useful, thought-provoking, or simply interesting. Instead of giving you only the citation, we'll give you more. We'll provide a brief overview and synopsis of the article.

We hope you find this to be helpful!

Articles that caught the Corgi’s eye this week:

Woodward, D. (2007) Work-life balancing strategies used by women managers in British "modern" universities. Equal Opportunities International. 26:1, pp. 6-17.

This article takes a look at how women managers of university programs balance work and their outside life. Although this article looks exclusively at women in British “modern” universities, the findings may apply to many other situations, and can give insight into the challenges and commitments faced by women working outside the home, which can include time with family, raising children, professional development, and education. In this study, it is clear that women are faced with a variety of time-consuming obligations and it is important to establish priorities and manage their time. How they make the decisions to prioritize and why certain choices are made depends on the urgency of the demands, and how critical they are to one’s primary survival. It is assumed that women managers need the work, and, on some fundamental level, they like it. Thus, women are willing to sacrifice time to it.

Woodward uncovered several findings that could be useful to individuals. First, in this study, all the participants reported unmanageably large workloads, with some seasonal variability. This seems to be a universal in programs and with women managers. The main problem reported by women is that unanticipated urgent items would arise and would interrupt the normal flow. Lunch breaks were a rarity. Many women arrive early and stay late. They did so to avoid rush-hour traffic and to give themselves some quiet time before the majority of workers arrived. All the women interviewed worked in excess of contracted hours, and usually ended up with 50 to 60-hour weeks. Few women took all their annual leave, and when they did take leave, it was often used for childcare purposes. Women had different attitudes about work, which ranged from finding work enjoyable to seeing work as an all-consuming malign force. Recreation, well-being, travel, and continuing education were challenging issues for women as they were often required to take work home. Because of the workload issues, boundaries between work and home were often fuzzy. Flex-time and work-from-home schemes would not necessarily solve the problem except in cases when it might help with childcare issues. For Wodward, the most useful finding was in organizational culture with respect to gender. Women are expected to be workaholics, concludes Woodward. For women to be able to dedicate time to family and continuing education, organizations must find ways to discourage negative work habits and workaholism. A woman who is mired in a culture that requires 60-hour work weeks just to manage the work flow is not given the opportunity to keep current with skills or knowledge, and will start to lose currency.

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