A recent article in Glamour Magazine online (a magazine that offers insight into careers and not only fashion) includes the image of a woman at work holding a baby and talking on the phone at the same time. Below this photo, the caption reads, “When men and women talk about work-life balance, they’re not speaking the same language.”
Recently, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Google, Patrick Pichette, announced his retirement and included an explanation. The post explaining his choice describes his decision to reprioritize his life , and all of this was included in a touching love letter to his wife of 25 years. Pichette wrote, “I am not looking for sympathy, I want to share my thought process because so many people struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life.” He was describing the hot-topic and ever-important issue of work-life balance and the relationship between your personal and home life and your work life. While we may not all work as hard in certain ways as a CFO of a giant publicly traded tech company like Google, most of the workforce is hardworking and in need of a balance between work life and home life. Yes, this balance can mean two very different things for men and women, so this complicates the understanding and new studies into work-life balance. The Glamour article rightfully points out that Pichette is not the average working male in the American workplace, and that “there’s a strong possibility that Pichette’s concept of work-life balance is skewed from mainstream America’s because of his extraordinary financial point of privilege, education, class or race.”
But, his note to his wife on his stepping down and retiring highlights the question that is on many people’s minds when it comes to work-life balance: are men and women talking about the same thing when they say work-life balance? Are men talking about having more time for hobbies life golf and poker and fishing? Are women talking about taking care of their homes and/or children? We don’t seem to have the answers to all of the questions around work-life balance, but we can release the point that when it comes to work-life balance, men and women seem to have different ideas around what this means. With more open dialogue and studies, men and women can be on the path to a mutual, or more similar, understanding of work-life balance.