Control over domestic decision making reduces women’s interest in workplace power

When “mom’s the boss”: Control over domestic decision making reduces women’s interest in workplace power

From Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

Although men are typically considered to have more power than women, women are more likely than men to be primary decision makers in the household domain. This paper outlines 3 studies that explore decision making power across the workplace and the home. Women’s power in the household may appear to compensate for a lack of power in the workplace. For women, household power may reduce their desire to increase their status outside the home. It is proposed that power over domestic decision making serves to create an illusion of equality in the domain of power. Findings show household power had negative effects on women’s career motivation, but not men’s. One alternative view is that perhaps women are simply less interested than men in workplace power. Ultimately women must at least partially abdicate their role as household decision makers—and men must agree to share such authority—in order to realize true gender equality in both the public and private spheres.

Abstract

Although men are typically considered to have more power than women, women are more likely than men to be primary decision makers in the household domain. We argue that the portrayal of women’s traditional role as representing a form of power, albeit limited in scope, is widespread in popular culture, and that this power is perceived as desirable and providing a subjective sense of control (Study 1). Yet power over household decision making may also function to reduce women’s objections to a status quo in which they have less power overall, outside their traditional role. Two experiments (Studies 2 and 3) showed that power over household decisions (but not mere domestic tasks) reduced women’s interest in achieving power in the workplace. Men’s interest in workplace power, on the other hand, was unaffected by the degree to which they wielded power at home.

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Article details
Melissa J. Williams and Serena Chen
When “mom’s the boss”: Control over domestic decision making reduces women’s interest in workplace power
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations July 2014 17: 436-452, first published on August 12, 2013 doi:10.1177/1368430213497065

 

 

     
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