Questions about singles in the workplace are coming up more and more often. That’s a good thing. For too long, conversations about the workplace, and about achieving “balance,” have focused on people who are married with children.
Here, I have put together a collection of links to various discussions (mostly mine) of singles in the workplace. There are four sections: two on the issues facing singles in the workplace, one on single people’s values, and one on possible actions that can be taken to create better workplaces for single people.
Writing about singles has been an enormously meaningful experience, but it has not been a lucrative one. I’ve had fantasies about making a mint on Singled Out or Singlism or from blogging. Not gonna happen.
What I fantasized about is not stuff like buying a yacht or traveling around the world. What I really wish I could do is support single people and singles activism and advocacy. So here I’d like to share some of my starry-eyed ideas that will never come to fruition from my meager royalties or paychecks. I hope you will add some of your own.
When I started high school in 1967, the principal was a no-nonsense woman named Eugenia DeFazio. Mrs. DeFazio, as we all called her, had already been the principal for 7 years at that point. I think she knew every last student who walked the Dunmore High School hallways until the day she retired at age 67. She had high standards and she enforced them. I admired that, and I admired her.
In my writing about singles, I’ve often pointed to the big ways that singles are targets of discrimination. Singles are discriminated against in the housing market, in ways that are blatant and yet not recognized as wrong. They pay more than their share in taxes. Single men are paid less than comparably-accomplished married men, and both single men and single women have less access to benefits such as health insurance. That’s unequal compensation for the same work. There are more than 1,000 federal laws that benefit married people. And that’s just the beginning. (Other examples are in Chapter 12 of Singled Out.)
As I’ve been working with Wendy Casper on our chapter about singles-friendly workplaces and reading relevant papers, I keep coming across the phrase “work-life balance.” I do realize that for lots of people, work is something that needs to be ‘balanced’ with the rest of life. Still, an uncritical use of the concept seems to neglect something significant: There are some fortunate people who love their work. They see their work as part of their lives, not something to be set against everything else they enjoy.
Arecent report suggests that the added cost of living solo, compared to living with a spouse or partner, is $388,059 over the course of a lifetime. The study was conducted in the UK. The economic disparity was calculated based on these considerations: