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Being 'Boss' at Home May Undermine Women's Ambition at Work: Study

Being 'Boss' at Home May Undermine Women's Ambition at Work: Study

Research suggests that taking charge of a household might curb desire for power in the office

FRIDAY, Jan. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Working women who are in charge of running their household are less likely to pursue promotions and types of career advancement, a new study contends.

Men's work goals were unaffected by the level of their household responsibilities, the researchers found in a series of experiments.

"It appears that being in charge of household decisions may bring a semblance of power to women's traditional role, to the point where women may have less desire to push against the obstacles to achieving additional power outside the home," study co-author and University of California, Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen said in a university news release.

The study was scheduled for presentation Friday at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in New Orleans. Data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Despite improved gender equity in many areas, women still tend to have responsibility for raising children, and household chores and finances, according to the researchers. The researchers said their findings suggest that this has an effect on women's career choices.

"As a result, women may make decisions such as not going after a high-status promotion at work, or not seeking to work full time, without realizing why," study lead author Melissa Williams, an assistant professor of business at Emory University in Atlanta, said in the news release.

It appears that having control over household matters reduces women's interest in power outside of the home, Chen said.

"To realize true gender equality in both the private and public spheres, our results suggest that women may need to at least partially abdicate their role of ultimate household deciders, and men must agree to share such decision making," Chen suggested.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers advice for working mothers (http://www2.aap.org/publiced/BK0_WorkingMothers.htm ).

SOURCE: University of California, Berkeley, news release, Jan. 18, 2013