Representational image. | Photo: Picpedia
Representational image. | Photo: Picpedia
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New Delhi: If you’re 50-59 years old, male and teaching science at a higher education level, you’re likely to have the best work-life balance possible, a new study has suggested.

The study by researchers from three Indian institutions has found that within the teaching community, men among all genders, old people among all age groups, and faculty members in science departments tend to enjoy greater work-life balance.

Work-life balance refers to management of time devoted to work — formal employment — and life — leisure, relaxation etc. The absence of a proper work-life balance can cause serious health troubles in the later years of life.

Published in the October-December issue of academic journal Sage Open, the study is based on 263 responses from five universities in Karnataka.

It throws light on the variation within higher education teachers and paves way for research in other sectors. It was conducted by scholars from All India Institute of Medical Sciences Bhopal, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Poornaprajna Institute of Management, Udupi, in Karnataka.

Gender gap

The survey reveals that women were mostly placed in disadvantageous positions as far as having a balanced life was concerned. 

For instance, 33.1 per cent of women respondents agreed that there wasn’t much time to relax, socialise, or spend time with a partner or family after work. Only 18.9 per cent men felt the same.

The study says about 36 per cent women respondents said they felt worried about the effects of work-related stress on their health. Twenty-six per cent of men felt this.

Compared to men, women are also likely to run out of time for hobbies, find it tougher to maintain friendships and relationships, and to think that forgetting about work issues was a hard thing to do.

On average, a male respondent was 1.53 times likelier to record a better work-life balance than a female respondent, the study said. 


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Old age and science departments help

The study notes that while a lot of literature is available about work-life balance for women workers, this research extends the conversation to other demographics.

According to the survey, young scholars tend to enjoy less work-life balance than the older ones. On average, faculty members aged below 40 scored 2.25 times less compared to those who were above 50. They also get 1.85 times less likely to find work-life balance as compared to those aged 40-49.

Compared to the average of all faculties, science faculty members are 1.6 times likelier to have a better work-life balance, the study states.

What explains these numbers?

The study cites extant research to explain why a limited set of people manage a better work-life balance.

Firstly, the gendered roles within the society could explain why men manage it better. “In India, the male employee’s involvement in caring functions at the non-work setting is less. The Indian culture considers caring functions such as cooking, sanitation, dependent care responsibilities, etc. as woman-centric,” the study states.

“These caring functions consume considerable time in the family. A woman spends 271 minutes/day on an average on caring functions, and the male spends 31 minutes. Further, Indian society expects women to view the husband’s career more important over one’s own career advancement goals,” it says.

For older faculty members, experience and expertise plays a significant role in their work life balance. “Self-confidence and self-efficacy of the faculties grow over the years with exposure to real work and life challenges and the training related to work affairs,” it adds.

Science faculties score better as high orderliness and quantitative attributes make the subject easier to teach as compared to social sciences, which have both qualitative and quantitative aspects to cover.


Also read: Is brushing your teeth for two minutes enough? What the evidence says


 

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