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Understanding the work‐life conflict of never‐married women without children

Elizabeth A. Hamilton (Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)
Judith R. Gordon (Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)
Karen S. Whelan‐Berry (School of Business, Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah, USA)

Women in Management Review

ISSN: 0964-9425

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




The purpose of this research is to focus on understanding the work‐life conflict of never‐married women without children.


This study uses survey data from two full‐service health care organizations and a financial services organization. Quantitative methodologies were used to address the study's research questions and hypotheses.


The findings show that never‐married women without children do experience conflict, specifically work‐to‐life conflict, and often at similar levels to that experienced by other groups of working women. The findings also suggest that work‐life benefits typically provided by organizations are frequently regarded as less important and used less often by never‐married women without children than by other working women.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should increase the sample of never‐married women without children, explore the sources of support these women use in juggling life roles, and incorporate comparative analysis across age and occupation groups as well as with never‐married childless men.

Practical implications

The research finds that not all employees value or utilize the benefits frequently offered by organizations. Human resource departments cannot assume a “one size fits all” approach to benefit administration but must recognize the unique sources of work‐life conflict for an array of employees and develop appropriate strategies to mitigate such conflict.


This study contributes to the work‐life literature by focusing on a vastly understudied group of employees whose growing presence in the workforce necessitates further exploration. This research advocates expanding the definition of work‐life as traditionally defined in the organizational behavior literature, allowing scholars to think more broadly about life roles other than spouse and parent that may have implications for conflict.



Hamilton, E.A., Gordon, J.R. and Whelan‐Berry, K.S. (2006), "Understanding the work‐life conflict of never‐married women without children", Women in Management Review, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 393-415.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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