Alabama women push for flexible work schedules and childcare; rising female employment could change Alabama workplaces.

AUBURN (September 8, 2009) A statewide survey of Alabama residents found that men and women agree that better benefits packages and higher wages should top the list of changes or improvements sought in the workplace. But when it comes to other employment priorities, gender differences are evident. Most notably, majorities of women care a lot about flexible work hours and schedules and the availability of on-site or convenient childcare. Sixty-seven (67) percent of women describe childcare as “very important,” compared to 55 percent of men.

Sixty-one (61) percent of women rate flexible hours and schedules as very important while just 49 percent of men concur.

The preferences of Alabama women could play a major role in restructuring of the workplace, says Auburn University’s Dr. David Hill. “Labor economists tell us that during recessions the percentage of female workers rises, so their voices may become more influential.” Earlier this year, economists reported that nationwide more women than men are now the primary breadwinners in their households.

The survey also found that transportation is a significant consideration in employment. Majorities of the Alabama residents surveyed described shorter commutes and the availability of public transit options as being “very important” improvements that are needed. “Whenever gasoline prices spike, we will see rising sensitivity from workers with long commutes” said Dr. Don-Terry Veal, Director of the Center for Governmental Services that conducted the poll. A majority of Alabama residents also said that there is a need for more employers that value diversity.

The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted with a stratified random sample of 639 adult householders July 6 -- 19, 2009. The sample’s geographic, gender, race, and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the United States Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult (18+ years of age) householders. Patrick Rose, Manager of the Center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

The Ask Alabama Poll is to be conducted quarterly by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for-profit associations, and private sector clients. Patrick Rose, manager of the center's Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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