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Work-life Balance: Balancing Time or Balancing Identity? By Michelle Ryan (Transcript)

The second implication is about what can be done. If we look at the initiatives and the interventions around work-life balance, most of them concentrate on time. Part-time working, work from home, job share. And I think while all of these initiatives are incredibly important because they give women, and indeed men, the opportunity to balance time in their lives. What these may do is inadvertently exacerbate issues of identity and belonging. If you work from home, if you work part-time, you are less likely to feel that you belong and you are less likely to feel that you can succeed. So such interventions may inadvertently unbalance issues of identity and sacrifice.

So what is a way to do it then? I think we need interventions and initiatives around work-life balance to go well beyond time but focus on identity and belonging. We need to send the message that all types of people that can make it. So that women, people of color, people from working class backgrounds can all imagine themselves in particular roles. That they can imagine succeeding in those roles. And that they can be confident that the sacrifices that they make, and indeed we all make, will be worth in the end.

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Thanks very much.

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