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Aspects of Workplace Flexibility and Mothers’ Satisfaction with Their Husbands’ Contributions to Household Labor


  • The authors would like to thank the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its support of this research, as well as the help of Patricia Sheffield, M. B. Crowley, and Kelly Dittmar. Please direct correspondence to: Jocelyn Elise Crowley, The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA; e-mail:


This article explores whether mothers’ perceived control over their own workplace flexibility options has any relationship to their satisfaction with their husbands’ contributions to household labor in the United States. We hypothesize that flexibility enhances their ability to more adeptly engage in role management in multiple life areas, thus enabling them to be more satisfied with their partners’ domestic input as well. We use a unique data set of 1,078 randomly sampled women involved in mothers’ organizations that generally attract members based on their current level of participation in the paid labor market. We then link nine distinct workplace flexibility policies with mothers’ satisfaction related to their husbands’ participation in all household tasks, as well as a subset of female-typed tasks. We find that across both arrays of tasks, mothers with more perceived control over work-related schedule predictability and those that had the ability to secure employment again after an extended break had higher levels of satisfaction with their husbands’ participation in household labor. In addition, short-term time off to address unexpected needs was important for all tasks considered together only.