Matthew Piszczek accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Psychology

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Mike Ilitch School of Business Assistant Professor of Management Matthew Piszczek has been accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Psychology, which publishes original investigations that contribute new knowledge and understanding to fields of applied psychology.

The publication, “Pushing the boundaries: A qualitative study of how STEM women adapted to disrupted work-nonwork boundaries during COVID-19,” was co-authored by Tammy Allen (University of South Florida), Tracy Dumas (Ohio State University) and Ellen Kossek (Purdue University).

Abstract

National reports widely publicized that the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of work-nonwork boundaries impacted women’s careers negatively, as many exited their jobs to manage nonwork demands. We know less about the adaptations made by highly career-invested women to remain in the workforce in occupations where they are extremely under-represented. Based on qualitative data from 763 academic STEM women at 202 universities, we examined adaptation to disrupted work-nonwork boundaries and identified workplace contextual features associated with these adaptations. Results show that STEM women varied in their adaptation. Many women adapted their professional image management approaches: from concealing nonwork roles – particularly when in less supportive contexts, to revealing them – often to challenge existing ideal worker norms and advocate for change. Also, women adapted through varying forms of role sacrifice; trading off one role’s execution for another, mental detachment through psychological role withdrawal, or abandoning role duties through behavioral role exit. Notably, some sacrificed their nonwork roles, although the dominant media narrative highlights women sacrificing work roles. Work contextual features associated with boundary management adaptation include structural support (e.g. flexibility) and social support (e.g., empathy). Results illuminate the complex decisions faced by STEM women when they lose the scaffolding supporting their work-nonwork interface. Moreover, the results have practical and theoretical implications for advancing workforce gender equity, and for supporting all employees’ work-nonwork boundary management.

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