Never-Married Women Asked About Social Context, Stereotypes
A group of never-married women were recently asked about how they perceive their social environments, with the research findings published in the Journal of Family Issues.
Larry Ganong, Human Development and Family Studies co-chair at the University of Missouri, and Elizabeth Sharp, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University, interviewed 32 women who were middle class and never married.
The women, who were between the ages of 28 and 34, reported they felt social pressure and that much attention was directed at them because of their single status and age.
“We found that never-married women’s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway,” Ganong said to TS-Si News Service.
ABC News has a report on the study that examines single life in the workplace, marital status issues and stereotypes. Seemingly harmless questions by coworkers around the coffee pot at work can backfire and make single people in their mid-20s and 30s feel like they’re being judged.
“The women felt like there was an evaluation happening,” Sharp told ABC News. “They often felt their co-workers were insinuating that something was wrong with them. Why aren’t you on this conventional life course that all the other co-workers are on?”
About 40 percent of adults were single in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Contrary to assumptions and stereotypes, single workers are often financially supporting family members in much the same way that married people support their families.
A policy briefing by the Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College titled “Opportunities for policy leadership on marital status discrimination,” noted several findings suggesting that employees may be treated differently based on their marital status:
•Married men are paid more and are offered promotions more often than single men, even when controlling for work performance and seniority.
•Employers are often able to subsidize health benefits for spouses and sometimes domestic partners, while offering no additional compensation for unmarried or single employees.
•Work-family policies are often written to address married employees with children. For example, dependent care allowances and parental leave are directed specifically to employees with children and are often not available to low-income single mothers.
•Flexible work schedules are more often available to employees from dual-earner families with children, as well.
•Unmarried workers and single workers without children are expected to travel more for work; they also feel that they have to work at times that are not expected.