LINDA CROLL HOWELL: I'm Linda Croll Howell. And I'm with the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity. And our department oversees providing support for faculty, staff, and students on career life challenges that they're facing.
So we're very pleased and honored to have our kickoff speaker today being Dr. Livingston who's Assistant Professor of Human Resource Studies at ILR. Dr. Livingston's research interests lie primarily in gender and work-family with additional interests in discrimination, diversity, and stereotypes.
Her research has been featured in news outlets like The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsweek and has been interviewed on ABC News and Fox News. So I will now turn it over for her talk, entitled "Insights into Behind the Scene Career and Family Negotiations in Dual Career Couples."
BETH LIVINGSTON: Thank you. Thank you. Can you guys hear me OK? Are we good? OK, great. Yeah, that'll work.
So I really was excited when Linda and Rose called me and was like, do you want to participate here today? And I thought, well, heck yeah, right? This is great. It's work and family. It's what I do. And I also thought it was very apropos, considering, right?
So we're about to bring work and family to a whole new meaning for my household. And I was laughing today because this topic actually stems from my dissertation, which I started four years ago now, I guess, when I started it and longer ago before I started conceptualizing it.
But my husband today was asking me know, oh, what is your presentation on? And I said, well, it's the same stuff I did in my dissertation, behind the scenes negotiation, how couples negotiate who's going to do what when it comes to work and family.
And he burst out laughing. And I was like, what? He's like, have you noticed what we've been doing like the past two weeks and past six months?
My mother-in-law moved in with us for medical reasons. And then we have the baby coming. And we're like, this whole past few months has been nothing but one pure negotiation. So he just thought, oh, how apropos, my dear. And I said, yes, indeed.
So, hopefully, we're just beginning to scratch the surface of these sorts of issues. I was talking beforehand informally and talking about work and family. And, when it comes to research, this research dream really started back in the mid '80s about work and family, people finally starting to realize, oh, you mean workers don't just come to work and forget about who they are at home? You mean that doesn't happen?
And people said, no, that's really not realistic. And companies started saying, oh, maybe we should care about that stuff. And researchers said, let's do some research and find out.
For many, many years, it was really the low-hanging fruit that was taken down, the really easy sort of stuff that people started to do research on. And now we've moved into a time where the low-hanging fruit has been plucked.
And now all we really have left is the complexity of work and family, the fact that it comes down to people-- and people are notoriously complex-- and people making decisions about their lives, which just adds more and more layers of complexity onto this issue which, for researchers like myself who just do research in management and organizations and social psychology, you're studying people all the time. But work and family is even more difficult to study. So, hopefully, I'll be able to scratch the surface a little bit with you guys today of what I'm talking about.
So the existential question, who am I? Why am I here? So I started thinking about this topic when I was looking at prior research. And, when I started graduate school, I wasn't married. I really wasn't thinking about that sort of stuff.
But there were other parts of my life that I cared about. Just because I wasn't married and I didn't have children didn't mean that I didn't have a life, I thought, or that I wanted. So this sort of thing really dawned on me because I found myself really, in my graduate school work, like nonstop. That was what I was doing. And there really wasn't time for anything else.
And I started looking at this research and thinking, hmm, are they talking to me? Are they speaking to me about these things? And what I was finding is that, first of all, we know that work affects home, and home affects work. Research has found time and time again that these things, at least for the vast majority of people, are inextricable.
There are things that spill over, whether it's mood, conflict, time constraints. These sort of things affect one another. So we can kind take that as a given.
The other thing that I found that was interesting was that the vast majority of women are actively seeking to change the division of labor in their household. And I found that to be fascinating, first of all, because the majority of the work-family literature only-- or not only, but has primarily looked at women.
But I thought, well, I wonder how men feel about that too, right? And I wonder what exactly women are doing to try to change this. Just because they want it changed, what are they actually doing about it?
So I started thinking about those questions in a little bit more detail. So the current research I'm going to talk about today is really looking at the following questions, which is, how do men and women negotiate their work and family roles? And do they experience different things because of the way they negotiate? So there are many different ways we can break it down, but I was looking at men and women to break it down into gender roles and really looking at work and family as well and what they experience from this.
One of the main points that I want to make is that I really think that studying what I call the negotiation before the negotiation or the behind the scenes negotiation can tell us a lot about the decisions people make. I thought about this because, heck, you always take-- as researchers, I tend to always pull from my own life. And I think a lot of people do that there were a lot of decisions that I've made about my career that some of it was purely me driving it. Like this is what I wanted. This was my dream. This is where I wanted to go.
But, as my relationships became more complex and more intimate, it became, well, it's not just me making a decision about this. There were discussions we have had about these things that are affecting the decisions I'm now making that my boss doesn't know about, nor does he or she need to know about those decisions that I've made.
But I may not apply for this job over here because that's not good for my husband. You don't need to know why I'm not applying because it's none of your business. But I've had these negotiations, and I know where I'm headed. And I feel very strongly that those sort of negotiations that go on behind the scenes affect the sort of work outcomes that employees have. And I wanted to delve into that a little bit more deeply.
So an illustration, so this is kind of how I started thinking about this topic, which was, you and your spouse, you're discussing the future. You both love your jobs. That happens a lot, right? We're talking about dual-career couples or, at the very least, folks who are in school and the other couple is working-- the other partner is working.
You're discussing the future. You love your jobs. How do you decide for whose career you'll move? Whose career will be primary? How do you make that decision?
Who will invest the most into the career? Who will go after the big promotions? How do you make that decision? It's not something that, in the literature, we talk about hardly at all. But yet it's so real world because people are doing it all the time.
You're thinking about it. Are we just doing it, well, I care about my career. So I'm going after mine. Are we talking about prioritizing based on who has the most economic potential? What is it? What's driving the decision?
So I kind of broke it down into four kind of archetypes. It's not nearly this simple. I wish it were, but it's not. So you can agree to put your ambitions on hold. So your partner can invest in his or her career.
You can decide to pursue your own career interests and expect and/or ask your partner because, sometimes, asking is implicit. You can avoid any discussion of the issue. So I really don't have the energy to talk about this right now. Let's just keep on moving status quo. We'll take it as it is. Or you can try to come up with a solution in which both of you can pursue your ambitions and respective careers.
You can imagine this sort of situation coming up multiple times and not just about careers, but about who's going to do what at home, who's going to do what with the kids. What about parents? What about families? What about Thanksgiving dinner?
All of those sorts of things, who's cooking? Who's cleaning? Whose parents are going where? All of these things require some sort of negotiation, whether we think about it that way or not.
So I talk about this sort of thing in terms of these kind of four archetypes, which fit on to a paradigm of negotiation that's used quite often where it's talking about, are you negotiating competitively, which is, my way or the highway? Are you negotiating more accommodatively, which is, whatever you need, dear, we're going to do?
Are you avoiding it altogether? Pair of blinders on. Don't really want to talk about it. Can't really talk about it right now. Or are you trying to find these integrative, creative solutions to try to figure out what we're going to do?
Those are kind of the four archetypes of negotiation. And notice that you can pick one of-- you can be negotiating one way one minute and another way another. Or, about one issue, I fight really hard because I hate the dishes. But, when it comes to his parents coming into town, maybe I'll-- I mean, you can think about these things. They're not mutually exclusive.
I also became interested not just in these archetypes, but what tactics are men and women using? And are certain tactics more effective for men and women? Are certain tactics more effective for men in negotiation or for women?
In negotiation literature, we often talk about what's the best way to negotiate. But we rarely talk about what's the best way for whom. Maybe that differs. And what about the context? Is the way you negotiate at work different from the way you negotiate at home? So all of these things were coming up as I was thinking through these issues.
So I kind of talked through these a little bit before, but the negotiation paradigm that I used was really based on this idea of competitive or cooperative negotiation. And so what you're really looking at is kind of concern for self, this competitive. What do I want?
And, sometimes, these words are-- they can trigger some things, have some connotations behind them. But really we all have a little bit of that. What do I want? What do I need in my life? Or you have kind of this concern for other, meaning, what do you need?
The interesting part about this is-- and this is where I talk about the literature really taking the low-hanging fruit and not really talking so much about how these complexities really coexist in a real-world sort of situation. Because we talk about these things as, OK, well, you're a competitive negotiator. Well, sometimes, but not all the time.
And you talk about how you negotiate with someone who I'm negotiating for salary at work at this one specific issue. What about someone you have to live with? Those are issues that aren't talked about very much. And I think that's a shame because I think there's a lot we can learn.
This idea of relational accommodation comes out of that paradigm of people actually starting to talk about this because they said, you know, the original economics folks who talked about this idea really talked about the fact that people have economic reasons, and they want to maximize their utility. We want to get the most out of a negotiation that we can get.
And some folks came around and said, I don't know, right? Maybe it's not just about this idea of utility, but there's some relational outcome matters just as much, if not more, to some people than what they individually are going to get.
Because, like you said, you're living with this person. There is a motivation to keep the relationship going, at least in most cases. And, if that's the case, you're thinking very differently about the tactics you're using and what you're trying to get out of that. And you know very well your partner and which tactics you should use under which circumstances and when and when you should just, yeah, I'm not going to go there today. Those are the sorts of things that the literature has, as of yet been, able to pick up.
Another point I want to make is that this negotiation-- I believe, this negotiation with couples is affected by what we call doing gender. And the sociologists have done a really great job of starting to unpack this idea. And the idea here is not just that whether you're a man or a woman matters, which I believe, in some cases, it matters more than in other cases.
Gender is actually something that people do, meaning it's something that people enact in relationships because we all have kind of latent expectations as to what it means to be a woman or what it means to be a man. And when you're in-- and I'm only looking at heterosexual relationships in this case. But, when you're in a heterosexual relationship, there are very specific expectations as to what the role of wife or mom or husband or dad means. And we have a very hard time divorcing ourselves from what those role expectations are.
And so, if we're going to really think about these intimate relationships, we can't ignore the fact that people enter them with real expectations about what that means, right? There's been research done about what the difference is kind of between cohabiting relationships, people who are cohabiting but not married, and people who are married and cohabiting.
And what they found is, in a lot of ways, they're very similar, but cohabiting relationships tend to be more egalitarian. They tend to split things more equally. What's interesting, though, is that, once that marriage happens, something else happens in the relationship as well that there's a dynamic that changes with even the label of marriage.
We don't really know what or how it works. That requires a partnership between sociologists and psychologists that sometimes, methodologically, doesn't always work out. But it's really fascinating to think that how this labeling of a relationship can change the way the people within it act. And I don't think that we can ignore that when we're talking about the way in which they make decisions.
So bringing that kind of idea of doing gender forward a little bit more is the idea that men and women may be successful, what we call successful, in partner negotiations in different ways. So, for instance, when you want to determine what the most effective negotiation tactic to get what you want is, you have to think not just about what it is that you want, but who's doing the negotiating.
So, if you think about this idea of doing gender, some researchers in sociology have found that, for instance, when women make up to a certain amount of money, like when you make a certain amount of money in the household, the idea is, well, I'm going to do less around the house, kind of the trade-off, right? I make more money. I do less housework.
It's an implicit trade-off. This is one that economists and family economists and such have recognized. But recent research has suggested that, possibly, that doesn't exist in a linear state, meaning it doesn't always happen that way. There was research done out of using data in Australia back in the early 2000s, and it found that that was very true for women up to the point where they made equal with their husbands. As they made more, they did more housework.
Fascinating because it plays into this idea of what I was talking about about doing gender. They weren't able to test this like I'm trying to test this, which is actually talking to people and actually asking people how they negotiated things.
But the idea was, OK, if you make more than your husband and you come into the relationship with an expectation of what it means to be a man and a woman in a relationship and you feel that, oh, wow, now, I'm the breadwinner-- now, I've taken something away from what I believe to be a masculine ideal. So how can I try to even that back out again? I'll do more of a feminine ideal. Fascinating.
Now, problems with that research? Of course. But the idea is fascinating, right? Is that actually occurring? And is it implicit or explicit? That's what fascinates me. Is it the woman making the decision? Or is she reacting to something, a reaction from her husband? I don't know. But that sort of idea of doing gender is really what I'm interested in looking at here.
I think that ignoring one's partner in their decision-making is really something that's been a huge negative in the work-family literature. And in this current research-- I've got other research right now that we're actually talking to both partners. What I talk about in this-- and I'm going to get into it in a second when I talk about methods-- is I'm actually asking people to tell me what you think your partner thinks, which it's funny because I've had this discussion with people before.
And I'm like, yes, I think it's important that you ask me what I think and you ask my husband what he thinks. But what affects my behavior is not what he actually thinks. It's what I think he thinks, right? Think about that.
What I think he thinks affects my behavior a whole lot more than what he might actually think. Now, hopefully, there's a connection between those two things, right? Hopefully, I'm at least somewhat good at guessing what he thinks. But all of us know we're not perfect at that. Sometimes, we're better at that than others. And I, in this research, am following up on that idea.
So, the variables you'll hear me talk about, role negotiation, so I've broken it down. Because this is a quantitative data set, I haven't been able to get a lot of the richness, but I'm going to bring some of that out for you guys. But I'm talking about role negotiation, so competitive or cooperative tactics. Are you putting yourself first or are you putting the other person first is the idea.
And I'm allowing you to be able to do both at the same time. I'm not saying you can only be one or the other. I'll talk about that in a minute.
The gender of the respondent. And I'm also looking at these two outcomes, which is effort, so the amount of effort you put into your work-- so it's the primacy of your job and the hours you work at it, putting in at it-- and also your partner's-- how much you perceive your partner is giving you emotional support, this idea of perceived partner support and how that's affecting the sort of outcomes that you might have.
And then, finally, burnout, how many people are feeling burnt out this time of year? A very-- again, a very important outcome to look at is this idea of stress.
I do note that I try to separate this into from work and from home. So, if you can try to find out how burnt out are you with your husband versus how burnt out are you with your job, if we can try to tease those apart, it might tell us a little bit more.
So I'm going to briefly talk about the methods. I won't go into a lot of detail. The paper is in press at the Journal of Management. So it'll be coming out soon if you're interested in it, but I can always give copies if anybody wants to come and talk to me about that. And I'll have my contact information up at the end. If you really, really want to know more about the methods, you can delve into that.
I sampled-- I tried to get as-- it's very difficult, when you're a graduate student, especially, and gathering data, to get people to want to give you all this sort of information when you're low on resources. And the graduate students in the audience are nodding, yes.
So I went a long way to try to find a varied sample to really get at what's going on. So I ended up with 74 women and 56 men. My stipulation was that they be cohabiting and they be together at least one year.
I also stipulated that both partners have to either have jobs or one partner is in school. So they have to-- no one is a stay-at-home parent, for instance, in this sample. Oh, well, I went forward. Never mind.
So length of partner ranged from 1 to 35 years. They averaged about one child. In general, men made more money and worked more hours than women, which is fairly representative of the population we're talking about.
Here's something interesting because you can't really study negotiation unless you know people are negotiating. I asked them, are you actually doing this? And 81% of them admitted that they were renegotiating these roles.
So I want to start with a little bit of the richness for you guys so you can get a little bit of the richness. And then I'll jump into the final takeaways from the study.
So I pulled some quotes. So I asked them open-ended-- before I asked them, on a quantitative scale, how are you negotiating, I asked them to recall the most memorable negotiation that they've had with their partner over this issue to really prime them to start thinking about this.
So a couple of them-- I talk about primacy of jobs, and I'm also talking about household labor just so you guys can kind of see the sorts of things that I'm talking about here when I'm talking about these sorts of negotiations. So a female respondent, "My husband and I amicably"-- I like that word-- "decided, years ago, his career would be primary because he earns more."
So there's her justification. He earns more money. Therefore, his job is primary. "We've relocated for his career, and we'll relocate again." There's how that-- now, think about that. This is a decision that they made. Would his relocation have been so amicable had they not talked about this beforehand? These are the issues that we're hoping to start to uncover in this stream of literature.
Here's a great part. "Recently, we had a discussion about me starting my career and possibly becoming primary." They started to renegotiate. "This has always been our plan, but my husband seems to agree with it more in theory. When I began mentioning firm, short-term goals, he repeatedly told me, it was unlikely I would succeed in my chosen career"
I put ellipses down there. She goes on about the actual details of the fights that they had, actual this, but I didn't think it was necessarily pertinent to talk about.
But the point is, renegotiations of these agreed upon kind of work divisions can cause a lot of contentious components of relationships. These are very important discussions that some people have.
"My husband is a teacher. Before we got married, he said he knew I had a good job. And since we lived in different cities in X, he would be willing to relocate to a city in X where I lived because my job would be harder to replace. And he could find a job anywhere as a teacher. He had just turned down an opportunity to return to college coaching because he knew it required so much time and effort he could no longer afford as a married man." A very different arena renegotiation experience, right? Very different.
Three more shorter examples here. Female respondent, this is kind of where the gender comes out. You haven't really-- you've seen the fact they've mentioned husband or wife. But we haven't really seen the gender discussion. Well, here you go.
"His opinion is that a man should be taking care of his family while a woman is taking care of the children and herself. He wants me to work with him in the future so we can spend more time together. So him and I wouldn't have to worry about my other boss or other issues."
So this was her. My career is not primary. This is why. OK, but they've had a discussion about it.
Second, a male respondent, "My job would be primary because I'm a male. And I'll likely be making the most money." Notice that he's not now. It's the future. Likely, one day, I will be. "Although we have both yet to start a career, we feel this is how it will play out."
Right? Expectations of gender roles in relationships affect those early negotiations, yeah? The final male respondent, "We lived in another state, and I was offered a job in X. And I told her I was moving, and she should come with me. She thought about it. And, after a few weeks of thought, she decided to quit college and move to X."
Again, a very different negotiation, a very competitive, what you would call self-interested negotiation. I made my decision. And she could come along or not. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: That sounds like an ultimatum. Which is that considered negotiating?
BETH LIVINGSTON: An ultimatum-- is an ultimatum considered negotiating? It can be, right? I wouldn't necessarily call it good negotiation. But trying to come to an agreement on an outcome using these sort of methods might get you to an agreement on an outcome.
Now, I have not followed any of these couples to find out the longevity of such relationships, but I find it fascinating to see how different each of these-- there were a lot of them saying, oh-- there were a few that said, oh, we never really talked about it. It just fell out this way. It just happened this way.
They couldn't really think about when they actually decided it. So, now, I worry that my research made them have really uncomfortable conversations after it was over. Honey, we didn't talk about this, did we? But still very interesting.
So let's talk a little bit about the household labor, that side of it. "So, recently, we discussed who was going to clean the bathroom. And, as neither of us likes to do it and it was getting gross, so, finally, it got gross, and we decided we had to do something." I'm dropping things. Hold on. Sorry about that.
"So we decided to split the duties. He cleans the shower and inside the toilet, and I get the rest of the surfaces." OK, negotiation, right? Negotiation, that's one way to do it.
Male respondent, "I felt that I was doing all of the house cleaning, and I kept it bottled up for weeks. Tension, anger, resentment built up. And I exploded. Wife responded in kind. But then we talked it out, and I felt better. The reverse scenario has happened once or twice too when I've been a lazy sod."
OK, so, again, the negotiations are different with this. People had a hard time talking about the career stuff. People had a hard time telling me about specific negotiations about this really big question. But, if you asked them about household labor, they could have talked for weeks.
A couple other examples of this, and then I'll move on to some more results. "She divided the jobs up to accommodate our strengths and to avoid our weaknesses. I am not allowed to do laundry. The tan towels are now light blue."
OK, a negotiation, though, right? OK, honey, let's break this down into what's economically viable for both of us. We can't afford new towels every week.
A female respondent, "My husband had a screaming fit, and at first, he didn't tell me why. Then he told me that keeping up his share of the chores was too stressful for him because he does more than me." That's one way to precipitate a conversation, right? But, again, it's the precursor to a negotiation about those chores.
Female respondent, "This turned into the silent treatment. I think sometimes he slacks a little." There's an avoidance of it. We're not going to have this discussion. He should know.
Or I like to characterize the avoidance of the I'm going to put this load of laundry at the bottom of the steps. And that means you are to carry it up the steps. I'm not going to tell you that that's what it means, but you should know that, that kind of passive negotiation that occurs.
Male respondent, "My wife told me she was going to tell our priest if I didn't clean the toilet and take out the garbage."
Again, they could have talked for weeks on this issue. Again, another ultimatum, however, used in a negotiating context. You don't want to do your fair share. Guess what I'm going to do? I'm going to call your mom or your religious authority, whichever one really applies in the situation.
So I found this to be very interesting because it was much more difficult for respondents to think about negotiation when it came to their careers. But, when you started asking them specific questions about negotiation tactics, they started saying, oh, wait, I've done that. Oh, wait, I've done that. I've thought about it this way.
It's just talking about it as a bargaining, as a negotiation, we don't often talk about it that way. When it comes to household labor, we do because there's a definite trade-off, a give and take, an immediate. If I don't clean this floor and you don't clean this floor, the floor is not clean. You can see that.
With careers, there's often this time and space that we can't really see what's going to become of that. If I have to invest now, what's that going to mean later? And our desires change, and they're hard to change on a whim. I might want the primary career today, but not want it in a couple of years after I've started investing in it. And how do we make those adjustments?
So some of the findings that I've found from the quantitative side of things, so, again, remember, I asked them, to what degree are you being competitive with your spouse when it comes to making this decision about the career? And then I also asked them, to what degree are you being cooperative? And I asked them a number of questions along those lines.
So what we found-- or what I found, I guess, I should say, is that, as women became more competitive, they were responsible for less of the career role and vice versa for men. Obviously, one of the issues with that is I didn't ask them beforehand what they were trying to go for. So that was a small limitation.
But I found it to be interesting that, as women used more competitive tactics, they tended to have less of the career responsibilities. Men seemed to be more aggressive about getting more of the career responsibilities.
Now, the way that I talk about this in the paper is that, well, this kind of fits, at least for men, in that, if you're enacting these sort of stereotypically masculine roles of competition, that men are seen as-- social role theory suggests that we have this expectation of men as the masculine aggressors, the breadwinners. We talk about separate spheres paradigm that men tend to be seen as the breadwinners and women as more nurturing.
So, when women enact cooperative behaviors, it's expected. When women enact competitive behaviors, it's not expected and vice versa. Not that women don't act that way, not that men don't act cooperatively, but our reactions to those things can be very different based on the degree to which we hold expectations about those behaviors.
As women became more competitive, they reported decreased emotional support from their male partners, meaning, if I'm becoming more and more forceful about asserting my own desires for my career with my husband-- this is completely hypothetical by the way-- then I would report less of emotional support from him the more that I'm standing up for that.
That would be-- you'd say, OK, well, any time you're acting more forceful and selfish about what you want, maybe you would get less support from the spouse. But what's interesting is that men didn't report that. They got the same amount of support, emotional support from their wives, regardless of how they negotiated. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: Is this irrespective of whether it's household or career.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Irrespective, mhm. Irrespective. It was the way in which they're negotiating and not the topic that seemed to matter. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: Do you see this as a reason or a consequence?
BETH LIVINGSTON: Is this a reason or consequence?
BETH LIVINGSTON: Is this a reason or a consequence? I tended to see this as a consequence at this point because I had it separate by time, but it is very difficult causality-wise because I didn't do an experiment to be able to chance that out. But, in terms of the theoretical basis that I used, I saw it more as-- some of the psychological research talks about backlash against men or women who enact rules that are non-expected.
And, if you're acting-- if you're supposed to be, as a wife, in a relationship, more nurturing and more accommodating and you're not doing that-- you're forcefully negotiating for what you want, what's in your self-interest-- that there might be a withholding of support in some ways, not unnecessarily-- none of the stuff is necessarily intentional. Like I am going to punish you for doing this, but that there's this withholding of, wait a second, I don't feel as comfortable about this, whereas women are expected to be nurturing regardless of what happens. That's the role that women are supposed to take.
AUDIENCE: And it's also, from their perspective too, it's like unnecessary-- could it be that maybe they are perceiving that? Because--
BETH LIVINGSTON: Could it be that they're perceiving that? Absolutely, it could be a perception of a lack of support because they themselves know they're enacting a role that's incongruent. And so they expect that sort of backlash. Absolutely, it absolutely could be.
As women became-- I want to make sure I'm-- I'm running a little low on time. And I want to make sure I get to my takeaway conclusions. So I'll go through this. And then we can ask any questions that you guys want and have time for.
As women became more cooperative, though-- remember, I asked them both. What cooperative behaviors did you enact? And what competitive behaviors did you enact?
Yes, there was a negative correlation between those two. But people, as you might expect, tended to use a mixture of all different kinds of negotiation tactics in these sorts of discussions. As women became more cooperative, they reported more emotional support from their male partners and, again, little to no effect to men.
So this was a parallel relationship. Although, of course, these were not the same constructs. And, again, this is consistent with theories of social backlash for women who enact stereotype-inconsistent behaviors like competitiveness. Or I think that's a great point. It could be I'm expecting to receive this sort of backlash or this sort of encouragement because I'm enacting these behaviors.
Again, the gendered roles that are laid upon the relationship of marriage can be very, very strong. And I think that it is important that we recognize that, as we start to talk about these sorts of things.
So what about those outcomes I was telling you about about effort and burnout? Well, the more paid work effort that you did, the more work burnout. That's a very expected outcome, right?
Interestingly, this did not-- this did not differ by gender. And this is a US-based context. And this is very typical of what you would expect in a context and in an environment that the work role is pretty much lifted above most other roles in our society in a lot of ways. I mean, the work role, it's what you do.
And work-- and we find this time and time again in terms of, when people feel like their family is interfering with their ability to do work, there's a much stronger reaction when it's vice versa for men and for women, which I found that to be an interesting thing to point out, not because-- of course, it's expected that, the more you work, the more you would experience stress, but that it was equally the same relationship for men and for women.
Women reported the same level of job burnout, regardless of the emotional support received from their husbands. It doesn't seem to matter. There's this idea that emotional support buffers. It has a buffering effect, and it allows you to be able to cope with stress better. You don't experience as much stress because you have this emotional support.
That happened for men. The more emotional support that men got from their wives, the less stressed they tended to feel from work. For women, it didn't matter.
Again, because this was perceived emotional support, you would-- I expected that, if there was a relationship, it would be even stronger because there's this perceptual nature, this kind of self-report perceptual nature. But women are basically saying, yeah, he's supporting me. And it's not really affecting my outcomes very much, which I think, again, one of those things that you can delve into more deeply in this gendered lens or in any sort of lens whatsoever.
But I found it to be a little sad and a little interesting that there's this idea of, OK, as I get more support, you would expect there to be some sort of a stress-related effect from that. And, in my data, I did not find that relationship.
Men reported more relationship burnout than women. They were more stressed out by their wives than wives were with their husbands. And, again, they were more strongly affected by the emotional support from their partners than women were.
In general, women kind of went, eh, it's not affecting me one way or another. It's great, but I'm not feeling less stressed because of it. Men tended to be much more reactive to that support. When it wasn't there, they were much more stressed than when it was in either their job or their relationship.
And, again, one of the sort of questions I like to put up here is-- these are the sorts of things that pop up as I'm doing this is, well, do expect their wives to provide more support and react negatively when they don't? Well, I'm expecting this, and if I don't have it-- or is it the positive support is driving this lack of stress? It's difficult to be able to tease that apart because it's, at this point, a linear relationship. But I think it's interesting to think about how people perceive the way they receive that support.
So I have a couple points here about what I think this means and what this means for the literature. There's a lot to be done in this literature. And, if there's anybody out there who are researchers in this area, please, pick it up because we need as much bodies on this as possible and as many heads on it as possible.
I've been lucky enough to meet some people who are doing it, and I think that it's great, like this idea of really looking at how these decisions are made. And I think they're important because I think they can really inform the negotiation of work and family roles and how this is continuing and ongoing.
It's not like you make a decision right when you get married, and then that sticks with you for 40 years. That doesn't happen. But we don't talk about it as if it's this dynamic relationship. We talk about it as if it's static. We take snapshots in time. And, obviously, I'm doing that in some ways as well, but we need to continue to talk about the process.
Another point kind of taking away is that the methods you use to achieve something in negotiation is affected by what you want, if you're negotiating for more of the career role or less of the career role, et cetera. But it also is affected by your desire to maintain the health of the relationship. And we can't forget that.
And that's been some of the problems with some of the economics literature that is early economics literature on this idea of family negotiation was that there tended to be, well, women will stay at home because it's in their financial best interest to do so. And men will work because it's in their financial best interest to do so if you think about comparative economics of who will trade off.
And that was kind of the initial theory. And then people started saying, but there's more to it than the economics. There's more to it than the economics, but it's hard to measure. And, anytime something is hard to measure, sometimes, it's just easier to not. And that's why I've constantly admitted through this process, my measures are not perfect, but I'm trying. And I hope that more people try.
The outcomes experienced again will undoubtedly be affected by gender norms and expectations. Another point, even though there's this expectation that women tend to be more cooperative than men, there didn't tend to be any reported differences by gender in the use of cooperative negotiation tactics. Men admitted to being more competitive overall as a main effect, but both of them said they were equally cooperative.
And this is one more point as to the context mattering. This is not a stranger these people are negotiating with. This is their spouse. And I think it's very important that we continue to consider that.
So I kind of, at the end here, just wanted to before-- obviously, I'm running really short on time, and I apologize for that-- is kind of finish with these sorts of things, which is, what does this mean for you?
And, when I think about this idea of negotiation, I think about, first of all, to consider the relationship and, when you're studying it or when you're in it, to think about that the relationship kind of matters. And we talk about-- I always give my PhD students advice. And I was always given advice. Negotiate for what you want in jobs.
Don't not negotiate, especially when I talk to my female PhD students because it's one of those things that we talk about. We talk about salary and the effects of gender on negotiation, but, how that research that we have on work negotiation translates into the relationship, we need to always think about that. Think about that relationship.
Remember-- and this is related to other research I've done too-- that family is going to spill over to work. It's going to happen and vice versa. It happens to everybody.
And I have done research on guilt and how this sort of family spilling over to work and work spilling over to family affects guilt. Both men and women experience it equally. Everybody feels guilty all the time.
And I think that, if we knew that everybody was feeling guilty, maybe we wouldn't feel quite as guilty. I don't know. It's a theory anyway.
There was an article that people are spending more time, more quality time, with their children today than ever before, but yet they're feeling more guilty about it. And I find that to be fascinating and this kind of powerful, motivating nature of guilt. Anybody who's had parents who are great at guilt trips knows the motivating nature of guilt.
A couple of main takeaways, according to the kind of rich data that I shared with you guys, it always seemed to result in a better and more satisfactory outcome-- I wouldn't say equitable because everybody's idea of equity is different of what they think is fair. But it was better if they did direct versus passive.
It was better, if you're having a problem with your husband not scrubbing the toilet or whatever it is, bring it up. Don't stew about it. And same thing with the job, though, it's sometimes a lot easier to do when it comes to household labor than it is talking about your career plans. If something starts to fire you up differently at work, talk about it. Talk about what those things are.
And the final thing, I talked a little bit about the gendered expectations. Try to avoid what you think this person is going to react like because of their gender unless you know exactly what they're expecting. So don't just assume, well, I know my husband is going to be really uncomfortable with me being the primary breadwinner because he's a man. Have a discussion about what those gendered expectations are because the variance that I saw, in terms of gendered expectations when I was asking these people this, was huge.
Yes, on average, men tended to be more traditional than women. Yes. But the variance, humongous. And, time and time again, if I asked, how traditional do you think your husband is, the women thought they were much more traditional than the men admitted to be.
Obviously, it's hard to tell who's lying. But I think it's worth having the discussion. So that's kind of the final takeaway there.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me about that. You can write it down. Those of you who need to leave, please feel free to do so because I know it's right about noon. It won't hurt my feelings. I promise.
And, those of you who'd like to stay, you can ask me questions in this format for a couple of minutes, and/or we can entertain on a closer level. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Hi. Thank you for your presentation, very informative.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Thanks.
AUDIENCE: I'm curious to know, based upon the research that you've looked at, how much do cultural nuances play into the outcomes?
BETH LIVINGSTON: Absolutely. I was kind of having this informal discussion [INAUDIBLE]. The question was about the cultural nuances and the way that that might affect the sorts of results that you're getting.
So in terms of-- I think the cultural effects really affect the gendered expectations the most of where you are. And I think that that's both true-- I'm from the South. And I think that's both true regionally and internationally in terms of what those expectations are. And those also-- there's also a huge effect of generation on these sorts of things.
And I think both of those are results-- I didn't have a big enough sample to tease it out, but I was seeing small, anecdotal evidence of those sorts of things coming out in terms of the traditionalist nature and the expectations of what-- one of my most interesting couples was a man and a woman who married later in life-- it was a second marriage, and both of them retired a couple years after they got married-- and talking about how they, with very established family lives and very established work lives, renegotiated how they were going to do things. And I think those are continual populations, but we need to look at it, absolutely. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: So your research, if I understood correctly, assumed that the couples were doing their best to maintain the health of the relationship.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Yes.
AUDIENCE: And that, I wonder, is it not a faulty presumption, given what we know about divorce rates--
BETH LIVINGSTON: Indeed.
AUDIENCE: --that blended families are now the majority of relationships in the United States--
BETH LIVINGSTON: Absolutely.
AUDIENCE: --have a family in the United States, and the divorce rate is well above 50% now. So--
BETH LIVINGSTON: What do I think? Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I mean, so is everyone negotiating, knowing, at some point--
BETH LIVINGSTON: For the outcome?
AUDIENCE: --there's a cliff? And they're not going to give up anymore.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Absolutely.
AUDIENCE: They're going end the relationship.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Yeah, so are people negotiating always with the health of the relationship in mind? This relational accommodation, does it hold if the relationship isn't healthy or you don't have the desire to maintain that health?
I asked a question of all of them that was, basically, intent to withdraw from the relationship. And have you thought about this versus have you gone as far as contacting an attorney? You know, how far to try to do that?
But it was very hard to piece apart kind of those sort of results. But I think that's a great point. Most of the people that I talked to didn't admit to having a very unhealthy relationship. But what they admit is very different. When you're talking about this self-report, you are going to get, well, I'll kind of kid myself as to what it is.
But you did see some relationships with very low levels of marital satisfaction. And there are only certain things to be able to take away from that sort of a result. That's a good point.
AUDIENCE: So your research group, is the majority of people white collar or blue collar?
BETH LIVINGSTON: It's a very-- the breakdown of employees in this group were all white collar-- well, vast majority, white collar, professional workers, which, along the lines of culture, regional culture, national culture, profession is extraordinarily important and class.
If you start to add this on and you add race and class and all these sorts of complexities onto it-- this is why I talked about so much of the low-hanging fruit is done. We know a whole lot about professors and what professors like to do. And we know a whole lot about white collar workers and what they like to do. And we know a lot about women because a lot of work-family stuff is done about women.
But there's this huge area that, frankly, there needs to be more resources, both not just monetary, but brain resources on these issues. And I've started some projects in these areas, but it's very difficult. I obviously don't expect with my limited-- you just need more brains on it because I think I'm very interested in this idea of the way in which working class people manage work and family. It's a very different choice level and very different in terms of the way in which you allocate these sort of responsibilities.
Some of the research I've been looking at, I have some contacts with some folks who work as blue collar workers and some of them very lower working class workers in New York City and some of the research about some of them who have received childcare subsidies. And, really, I have someone who's given me some data on that.
And, looking through it, it's just such a very different-- a very, very different situation. It's not, do we go to this daycare or that daycare? Do we have a live-in nanny or not? It is, do I have anybody who is not intoxicated or who is of age or who is not working themselves who can watch my child?
And that's a very different level of stress we're talking about and a very different stakes of negotiation when we're talking about the stakes of negotiating. It's not just, can I pursue my dream career? It's, can I pay the water bill? And that's a very different stake of negotiation, which, hopefully, we'll be able to continue to look at as we go further.
I think I'll go ahead and end it now because it's 10 after. But please feel free. Come up afterwards if you have any questions. Please don't hesitate to email me if you guys want to talk about it more or you want a copy of the paper. And I'll be more than happy to do so, OK?
AUDIENCE: I came in late. What's your name?
BETH LIVINGSTON: Beth Livingston.
BETH LIVINGSTON: Yeah. Thanks, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
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Beth A. Livingston, Cornell assistant professor of human resource studies, shares her research and insights into negotiations between dual career spouses/partners to determine career precedence and distribution of household responsibilities.
Livingston's November 18, 2011 talk kicked off a new faculty speaker series sponsored by the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity.