Knowledge Work and Flexible Working: Helping or Hindering Working Women?

  • Doris Ruth EikhofEmail author
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Women’s workforce participation and advancement still lag behind those of men. This is true despite two recent trends that could have been expected to facilitate women’s careers: the rise in knowledge work and the increase in flexible working. This chapter contrasts the potential of knowledge work and flexible working for facilitating gender equality at work with an analysis of their hidden and lesser discussed gendered implications. Certain characteristics of knowledge work pose challenges that women find disproportionately more difficult to deal with than men. Flexible working, especially when undertaken from home, often results in gendered practices and stigmatisation that hinder women’s careers. The chapter brings together empirical evidence from a broad range of studies to discuss these hidden consequences of knowledge work and flexible working for women’s workforce participation and advancement and to identify implications for research, practice and policy.


Flexible working Gender equality Knowledge work Tele-work Women’s work Work-life balance Work-life boundary 



The author would like to thank Fiona Millar for her flawless support in preparing the manuscript.

Some of the material presented here has also been included in D.R. Eikhof (2012) ‘A double-edged sword: 21st century workplace trends and gender equality’, Gender in Management, 27(1), 7–22.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Leicester School of ManagementLeicesterUK

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