1st Edition

The Part-time Paradox Time Norms, Professional Life, Family and Gender

    Today's professionals, especially women, are caught in a time paradox: can they build a career and a family at the same time? The Part-time Paradox explores the conflict and tension between the time demands of career and family life, and the choice of part-time work as a solution.

    The changing demographics of the family and the work place make it increasingly difficult for both men and women to meet the escalating time pressures facing a doctor, lawyer or manager. This book examines the social problems associated with demanding work schedules and choices, and also illustrates successful alternatives to full-time employment. It draws on interviews with attorneys in large law firms, in-house corporate counsels, and government service in order to explore the multiple dimensions of the part-time work solution. Although attitudes are beginning to change, one of the greatest impediments to part-time work is the stigma attached to it in many organizations, and the consequences for the careers of individuals who take it. Professionals define themselves, in part, by their commitment to overtime. The authors reveal how cultural perspectives of the true professional, part-time work, and stereotypes about gender roles can influence both an individual's decision making process and office policy. They show that in an environment where professionals perceive part-time work as deviant, it may require not just perserverance, but also a trade-off between time flexibility and professional status.

    The authors consider issues ranging from job security and the consequences of new technology, to the economics of part-time work and the division of labor in the family. The Part-time Paradox provides a timely overview of a growing crisis, as part-time and flex-time work arrangements increase.

    Part I: The Social Meaning of Professional Time 1. Introduction 2. The Social Context of Time Deviance 3. Time and the Practices and Rituals of the Legal Profession Part II: Cultural Perspectives on Part-time Work and Its Consequences 4. Part-Time Work as Deviance: Stigmatization and its Consequences 5. Perspectives on Accommodating Part-Time Work 6. Calculating the Economics of Part-Time Work Part III: Career Issues and Problems in Part-Time Legal Work 7. Mobility 8. Job Security and Insecurity: The Vulnerability of Part-Time Positions 9. Part-Time Status and Rank Discrepancies: Statue Incongruity 10. Commitment and Professional Status 11. Collegiality 12. Justice and Fairness Part IV: The Family and Part-Time Work 13. Parents, Children, Child Care, and the Division of Labor in the Family Part V: Technology 14. Technology and Part-Time Lawyering Part VI 15. Conclusion Part VII: Appendices A. Research Methodology B. Part-Time Work Policies and Issues They Cover C. Tables


    Cynthia Fuchs Epstein is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is Visiting Professor at the Stanford Law School for 1997-98. Carroll Seron is Acting Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY. Bonnie Oglensky and Robert Sauté are at CUNY Graduate Center.

    "The Part-time Paradox provides a brilliant portrayal of the discontents of the post-industrial workplace. With insight and passion, it demonstrates that achieving gender equity and family welfare requires nothing less than a fundamental restructuring of the 'time norms' that now equate work success with all consuming commitment." -- Kathleen Gerson, author of Hard Choices: How Women Decide about Work, Career, and Motherhood
    "This superb study works on many levels--as first-class scholarship, as probing policy analysis, and as an extraordinary source of insight into the professional lives of men and women. A must read for all who study, love or live with the struggles of work and family." -- John Hagan, co-author of Gender and Practice
    "Lawyers now rival medical interns and residents in workaholism (though at least they kill only themselves). This book--the first systematic study of part-time legal careers--shows that lawyers can control their hours and effectively serve employers and clients--as well as themselves and their families." -- Richard Abel, author of American Lawyers