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At the intersection of work and family how do we define our identities

D’Amore-McKim School of Business Professor Jamie Ladge has spent her career studying how working professionals view their identities in the office and at home—and how these identities often intersect. Her recently published research examines the dynamics of how different groups of working professionals view and manage their identities.

Published

July 9, 2018

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In her recently published co-authored research, D’Amore-McKim Professor Jamie Ladge examines the way working professionals view their identities in the office and home - and how they intersect with one another.

In one Academy of Management Review paper, Ladge delves into a common struggle found among working parents: effectively portraying themselves as both devoted professionals and good parents, introduced as their “work-family image.”

“We’re constantly trying to be all things to all people, depending on who the audience is,” said Ladge. “As professionals we have a professional image, and as parents we have a parenting image. But we oftentimes struggle to disentangle the two.”

According to Ladge, working parents attempt to manage this image with professional and personal expectations often causing issues between the two. Managers and organizations can help struggling parents by committing to employees’ caregiving needs, among other changes.

Ladge’s previous work explored why some new mothers decide to leave the workforce while others stay. In another study, she found that the more time fathers spend with their children on a typical day, the greater job satisfaction and less conflict between work and family they experience.

“I’ve always been interested in identity,” Ladge said.

Ladge is working on a forthcoming research paper with colleague Marla Baskerville Watkins, the highlights of which were recently published in Harvard Business Review. The research, based on interviews with 59 black females in senior-level positions in the U.S., found that they are forgotten, overlooked, or disregarded, because they are women and minorities.

Ladge described this project as “one of the most fascinating” she’s ever done. “Finishing up that paper will probably be the highlight of my career, because I’ve learned so much from that work,” she said.

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