Seeking a better work-life balance, more and more mid- and senior-level professional women are successfully negotiating flexible work schedules without cutting back income, a recent national survey found.
In doing so, they are also challenging the way both women and men have traditionally managed their careers—and creating new arrangements that could help lessen the impact of looming labor shortages, according to researchers at the Simmons School of Management in Boston, Mass.
The findings also suggest that fewer women are being forced to drop out of the workforce in order to raise a family than previous thought, researchers said.
Of more than 400 female workers polled nationwide, more than 90 percent said they have opted for flexible work arrangements at some point in their careers, including telecommuting, flexible hours, or simply limiting tasks that require working evenings or travel, the survey found.
A full 88 percent said flexible work arrangements allowed them to continue working full-time despite managing complex personal lives.
Contrary to accepted wisdom, researchers said, employees using flexible work arrangements tended to earn the same as those on regular work schedules. About 85 percent of the survey's respondents were responsible for at least half of their household incomes.
"Overwhelmingly, the women in our study say they must work," Mary Shapiro, a Simmons School professor who headed the study, said in a statement. "But they have been smart and creative."
As such, Shapiro said working women are increasingly becoming career "self agents," who set their own terms of employment that strike a balance between work and home life.
"Women are at the leading edge of shifting the career paradigm for everyone," Shapiro said.
For instance, more than 60 percent of the survey's respondents said they were more loyal to employers offering flexible schedules, telecommutes, and other options.
"There's a workforce shortage on the horizon, and flexible work arrangements may be the main strategic advance in the coming decades in attracting and retaining male and female essential talent," Shapiro said.