I’ve noticed that the competitive attitude toward work is more prevalent among men, and the “work to live” attitude is more prevalent among women. That’s not to say that there aren’t representatives of both genders in their opposite attitude, but rather to point out that it’s more common.
I think a lot of it has to do with having children in a family- the expectation is that the mother is the primary caregiver, and that the dad is the breadwinner. In practice, this usually means that if the mother doesn’t stay home, she generally works in a relatively low pressure position that she can take plenty of unscheduled time off from work and it either won’t affect her career, or if it does, it doesn’t matter, because she’s not gunning for promotions, or anything that’ll take more time or limit their flexibility.
Men on the other hand, are more or less steeped in this get-ahead-at-all-costs mentality from childhood; there’s no shortage of men, or male-run companies that have a “macho” attitude about working long hours (which is utterly cretinous, IMO) and wear that as a badge of honor, and look down at people who don’t do that like they’re not committed enough to their jobs.
I think a LOT of the phenomenon of people working long hours is that macho attitude, combined with a fucked-up situation that continues to perpetuate that attitude because the workaholics and no-life people are the ones who get promoted to management… because they’re the ones most willing to drink the long-hours koolaid and put the long hours in.
I mean, I was a consultant at one point, and I can’t count the number of times I said “Fuck this, let’s do it in the morning- it’ll keep.” and got the weirdest stares like I suggested we skip out at 11 am and go to a titty bar for the rest of the day. Come to think of it, the titty bar suggestion would have got better traction and far less weird looks.
Once I had kids, I realized that I want to see them as much as I can, and if they go to bed relatively early, then I need to be home earlier to see them. Therefore, my entire goal is to work 7-8 hours, and then bail, unless there’s a clear and pressing need for me to stay later, that ABSOLUTELY CAN’T wait for the following morning, or until after the kids are in bed for me to work on from home. I also have no interest in being in management- the idea of dealing with budgets and accountants makes me think violent thoughts because I generally loathe that sort of nitpickery- either fund the fucking projects adequately and get out of my way, or don’t fund it and don’t expect anything. Doing the kind of shenanigans like they do at my company where you have to go fight for the funding, and then continually justify the release of the funds over the course of the project would have me punching someone eventually, I’m sure.
So my entire goal is rather Peter Gibbons-esque. My entire goal is to squirrel myself into some sort of position where I don’t have to work too hard, and I keep my paycheck, and where I can basically look good and get small raises, without having to work more than 40 hours a week, wear anything other than jeans and polo shirts, and not have someone breathe down my neck about minutiae like when I show up and when I leave.
So far, I’m about 90% there.