Family responsibilities and career outcomes: Discriminatory and nondiscriminatory explanations

Colleen Flaherty Manchester, Lisa M. Leslie, Patricia C. Dahm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


This chapter advances the understanding of the impact of family responsibilities on career outcomes (e.g., hiring, promotion, and pay) by proposing an integrative model, spanning theories from economics, psychology, and sociology, that includes multiple mechanisms through which family responsibilities may affect career outcomes. The model serves as a guide for reviewing the literature on the effect of family responsibilities- including marital and breadwinner status, parental status, pregnancy, and use of family- friendly policies- on career outcomes. The chapter concludes that family responsibilities affect career outcomes, net of any productivity differences between employees with and without family responsibilities, suggesting discriminatory treatment. The effect is not uniformly negative; employees with family responsibilities have either less favorable or more favorable career outcomes than employees without. We find that whether family responsibilities positively or negatively affect career outcomes, and the mechanisms driving the effect, depends on the family responsibility type and, at times, employee gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Workplace Discrimination
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780199363643
StatePublished - Feb 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Breadwinner status
  • Career outcome
  • Discrimination
  • Family responsibility
  • Family- friendly policy
  • Flexible work practice
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Parental status
  • Pregnancy


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