Penalizing Men Who Request a Family Leave: Is Flexibility Stigma a Femininity Stigma?
Article first published online: 12 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Special Issue: The Flexibility Stigma
Volume 69, Issue 2, pages 322–340, June 2013
How to Cite
Rudman, L. A. and Mescher, K. (2013), Penalizing Men Who Request a Family Leave: Is Flexibility Stigma a Femininity Stigma?. Journal of Social Issues, 69: 322–340. doi: 10.1111/josi.12017
- Issue published online: 12 JUN 2013
- Article first published online: 12 JUN 2013
Men who request a family leave are viewed as poor organizational citizens and ineligible for rewards. In addition to a poor worker stigma, we found that male leave requesters suffer femininity stigma. Compared with control targets, male leave requesters were viewed as higher on weak, feminine traits (e.g., weak and uncertain), and lower on agentic masculine traits (e.g., competitive and ambitious). Perceptions of weakness uniquely predicted greater risk for penalties (e.g., being demoted or downsized) and fully accounted for the effect of poor worker stigma on male leave requesters’ penalties. By contrast, the poor worker stigma and both agency and weakness perceptions contributed to their reward recommendations. Results were comparable regardless of the reason given for requesting a family leave, target race (White or Black), and participant gender. The implications of these findings for work–life balance and gender equality are discussed.