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Gendered Time Surveillance and Suspicions at Work and in Professional Roles

Tuesday 27 June 2023, 1400-1500
Maurice Keyworth SR 1.33
Chia-Jung Tsay, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University College London


Pressures to work long hours are widespread in professional workplaces, and contribute to the persistence of gender inequality. We build and test novel theory about the gendered ways that people monitor and make attributions about others’ time use at work. Analyzing a qualitative survey of 300 managers, we identify a phenomenon we label time surveillance: the everyday practice of noticing and making attributions about others’ time use at work. Drawing the data together with theory, we theorize that time surveillance is gendered, with women’s time away from the office more likely than men’s to be both noticed and attributed to personal commitments, whereas men’s time away is less likely to be noticed and if noticed, more likely to be attributed to work commitments (e.g., visiting a client). We explore time surveillance through two surveys and ten experiments, including a preregistered replication, with a total of 2,910 participants. These studies provide evidence for both time surveillance and its gendered nature. Our series of studies establishes that gendered time surveillance generalizes across industry gatekeepers, the lay public, and also occurs in online work environments. Further, we find that the gendered nature of time surveillance is shaped by the occupation’s demographic composition: in gender-balanced or male- dominant occupations, time surveillance associates women with personal responsibilities, but in a female- dominated occupation, men are associated with personal responsibilities. These studies offer novel insights into relationships between time, gender, and inequality that are especially important given the push to return to the office.

The Speaker

Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay is the Bruce and Janice Ellig Professor in Management and an Associate Professor at UW-Madison, and an Associate Professor at UCL. Her work examines the psychological processes that influence decision making and interpersonal perception about performance. Chia's research has been published in journals including PNAS, Management Science, OBHDP, ROB, and PSPB, and featured in media outlets including the BBC, Economist, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Nature, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. Chia received a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior jointly from Harvard Business School and the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. In other professional experience, as a classical pianist, Chia has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the U.S. Embassy and holds degrees from the Juilliard School and the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where she later served as faculty.