Invisible families, invisible conflicts: Explaining the Persistence of Gender Inequality: The Work-Family Narrative as a Social Defense against the 24/7 Work Culture

Irene Padavic, Ph.D. & Robin J. Ely, Ph.D.

Are women’s family responsibilities the reason for their stalled advancement?

Conventional wisdom says “yes.” But is it true? When companies create solutions to address work-life conflict instead of rethinking the 24/7 work culture, they find their partner ranks depleted of some of their brightest female stars.

At this year’s Kanter Lecture, Drs. Irene Padavic and Robin Ely present highlights of their 2021 Kanter Award-winning paper (with Erin Reid) explaining how the work-family narrative sustains gender inequality by acting as a social defense against acknowledging the damage wrought by a 24/7 work culture.

2021 Kanter Award nominated article: Padavic, I., Ely, R. J., & Reid, E. M. (2020). Explaining the persistence of gender inequality: The work–family narrative as a social defense against the 24/7 work culture. Administrative Science Quarterly, 65(1), 61-111. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839219832310

  • Friday, February 11, 2022
  • Zoom Meeting
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • The Kanter Lecture Series is free and open to the public.


Irene Padavic is Claude and Mildred Pepper Professor of Sociology at Florida State University. Her research centers on the forces that maintain and undermine workplace inequality and examines such topics as women veterans’ earnings, race differences in motivations for joining unions, the race wage-gap among women, and barriers women face in blue-collar jobs. She earned a bachelors’ degree from Smith College and a Ph.D in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Robin J. Ely is Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School. She conducts field-based research on race and gender relations in organizations with a focus on organizational culture change, group dynamics, conflict, power, and identity and is founder and co-chair of Harvard Business School’s Gender Initiative. She earned a bachelors’ degree from Smith College and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Yale University.


The Center for Families
Krannert School of Management
Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence
Department of Psychological Sciences
Department of Sociology
School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Department of Political Science
Department of Human Development and Family Studies