Cross-Cultural Differences in Work-Life Integration
The dramatic change in the career and family aspirations of Penn graduates over the past twenty years is illustrative of a general trend towards reduced choice regarding work and children. Professor Friedman, founder of the Work/Life Integration Project (W/LIP), discovered that the number of Penn graduates who intend to have children has nearly halved from 1992 to 2012. A greater understanding of work-life balance in Western European countries such as Germany will highlight the cultural changes that need to occur in order to achieve a greater work-life balance in the United States. Through student-led discussions at German universities similar to those of the Work/Life Integration Project Student Advisory Board at Penn, this paper aims to shed light on student attitudes and aspirations that are instrumental in institutional and cultural reform here at Penn and other universities. This study aims to understand how much of the change in career and family aspirations can be attributed to the pre-professional environment at universities in the United States. A cross-cultural comparison between work-life balance in Germany and the United States will be provided through student-led discussions and interviews. This study will highlight institutional mechanisms that facilitate work-family balance and provide policy-relevant recommendations that affect men and women everywhere.