The article outlines a study of the granting of “flex” time. The general idea is that pairs of men and women asked for a shift in their normal working hours — when the salaried male/female pairs asked for flex time for professional development, the men generally got it and the women didn’t. When they asked for flex-time for family reasons the men were still more likely to get it, but it was less likely than if they asked for professional development reasons. The same basic pattern held for hourly employees.
The kicker is that further investigation revealed that women, because they’re so closely tied to child/family care, were suspected of using professional development as a cover for family care… AND, because of the assumption that women do most of the family care their bosses also assume that they’ll eventually quit or go part-time to satisfy the needs of their families.
SO — If you’re the male, with the privilege (i.e. assumption that you’re the one focused on work not family) you can get the flex time you need to further your career or support your family — just because of your gender. If you’re a woman who actually needs the flex-time to return to school or do other professional development activities, the assumption — because of your gender — is that you’re really asking for flex-time to do family business — thus, the man will get it and the woman won’t.
That isn’t news – but the distinction sucks. When the only difference is gender, the employees should be treated equally. There is no reason men couldn’t take flex time to care for family members — only a deeply ingrained set of assumptions tells us otherwise.