work-family conflict, social support, performance evaluation, gender, attribution theory, discrimination


Forty percent of employed parents report that they experience work-family conflict (Galinsky, Bond, & Friedman, 1993). Work-family conflict (WFC) exists when role pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible. WFC is associated with decreases in family, job, and life satisfaction and physical health; intention to quit one's job; and increases in workplace absenteeism. Women may be more impacted by WFC than men, as women report completing 65-80% of the child care (Sayer, 2001) and spend 80 hours per week fulfilling work and home responsibilities (Cowan, 1983). Research suggests that WFC can be reduced with social support, such as co-workers providing assistance when family interferes with work (Carlson & Perrewe, 1999). It is unclear whether parents 'get a break' or are penalized by co-workers. The purpose of the present study was to examine co-workers' reactions to individuals who experience WFC. Based on sex role theory and attribution theory, it was predicted that women, people who experience family interference with work, and those who have more control over the work interference would be helped less and evaluated more poorly on a team task than men, people who experience non-family related work interference, and those who have less control over the work interference. A laboratory experiment was conducted in which participants signed up for a team-based study. The teammate was a confederate who was late for the study. Teammate control over the tardiness (unexpected physician's visit versus forgotten physician's appointment), type of work conflict (self- versus family-related), and gender of the teammate were manipulated. After learning about the reasons for the tardiness of their teammate, the 218 participants (63% female; 59% Caucasian) decided whether to help the late teammate by completing a word sort task for them or letting the late teammate make up the work after the experiment. When the teammate arrived, the participants completed a team task and then evaluated the task performance of their teammate. None of the hypotheses were confirmed in this study. However, exploratory analyses showed that people who had more control over the tardiness were rated lower than people who had less control over the tardiness. Contrary to expectations, exploratory analyses also showed that men rated women who were late to the study for a family-related reason higher than women who were late due to a self-related reason. These findings suggest that male co-workers may give women a break when they experience family interference with work. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.


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Graduation Date



Fritzsche, Barbara


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

April 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Psychology Commons