Attending the WFRN – Day 3

Wow, final day already!

Appropriately, I started my day with a session on using social media. Nanette Fondas (amongst many other things a blogger at explained why intellectuals shold blog. The world has changed, with scholars increasingly trying to get their work out to the larger public. For academics blogging means more work. But, for greater dissemination, they have no choice but to participate. CV Harquail (Entrepreneur of insights, blogger at explained how blogging is much more about influence and opinion than it is about presenting facts in academese language.

Next, a poster session. Admittedly, I found the posters a bit too much focused on text: as if a whole are article was copy-pasted on a big piece of paper. Nevertheless, interesting stuff! Audrey Reichman was interested in the association between maternal feelings towards employment and maternal mental health and well-being. Whereas the results were quite difficult to interpret, we had a nice discussion about interpretations of the findings, and possible improvements of the research. Christina Wolf showed analyses on time use of both men and women, in the United States and Germany. Men clearly spend more time on leisure than women. But, did you know that married men have less leisure time than cohabiting men? I wasn’t really aware of the existence of such differences between cohabitation and marriage, but the found disparities in time use were consistent between countries. In the general discussion, I could even contribute some insights on Dutch part-time labour. Since so many women indeed work part-time in the Netherlands, many women who actually want to work full-time find themselves faced with all kind of normative and practical pressures.

There was a great round-table conversation, about an international perspective on work and ‘families': addressing needs and solutions in diverse societies. The goal was to debate international applications of theoretical frameworks, measures, and interventions relating to the work/nonwork issues. The notes on this session will be posted on the WFRN commons soon, so make sure to check them out. Some of the issues discussed include how job demands – a crucial indicator of work-family balance – are highly job-specific, Gail Kinman argued, and therefore difficult to assess with general measures. Anne Bardoel discussed the difficulties multinationals face when trying to develop HR policies to apply in different countries. Total diversity is not feasible, but a single policy would not be applicable in all countries / cultures. Even within countries, great diversity is present. India, Tripti Desai described, is much more like Europe than a single country. Finally, despite all these forms of diversity in jobs, cultures, countries, and regions, Jospeh Grzywacz argued for the importance of looking for a common ground in our measures to attempt and facilitate comparative research.

So, we have had three fantastic days at the WFRN inaugural meeting in New York. Of course, I haven’t even told about a plenary meeting on Workplace Flexibility in the United States, nor about managing the work-family boundary, nor about supporting fatherhood and paid work. There simply was too much to attend, and to choose between. What a great program it was, and the number of very nice people I met!

In the end, I am delighted to have been part of the start of what seems to be a very interesting organization.

Did you attend this conference as well? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the WFRN inaugural meeting!

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