The Organizational Implications of a Traditional Marriage: Can a Domestic Traditionalist by Night be an Organizational Egalitarian by Day?
Sreedhari D. Desai
University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School
New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior
University of Utah
March 12, 2012
UNC Kenan-Flagler Research Paper No. 2013-19
We provide evidence that marriage structure has important organizational implications. Specifically, heterosexual men married to wives who are not employed (relative to those married to wives employed full time) go to work with attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that disfavor women in the workplace and are more likely to make decisions that prevent the advancement of qualified women. We conducted five studies with a total of 993 married, male participants. We found that employed husbands in traditional marriages, compared to the average married man, tend to (a) view the presence of women in the workplace unfavorably, (b) perceive that organizations with higher numbers of female employees are operating less smoothly, (c) perceive organizations with female leaders as relatively unattractive, (d) deny qualified female employees opportunities for promotion more frequently. Importantly, our final study suggests that the change in attitudes towards women may occur with entry into traditional marriage structure from a state of being single. The consistent pattern of results across multiple studies employing multiple methods (lab, longitudinal, secondary) and samples (U.S., U.K., undergraduates, managers) demonstrates the robustness of the findings and suggests that self-selection into traditional marriage structures does not fully explain the effect. We discuss the theoretical and practical import of our findings and suggest directions for future research.
Keywords: gender, marriage structure, organizational demographics, work and family
JEL Classification: D23, J16, C91
Date posted: March 11, 2012 ; Last revised: August 20, 2014