Family Responsibility Discrimination, Power Distance, and Emotional Exhaustion: When and Why are There Gender Differences in Work–Life Conflict?

  • Tiffany Trzebiatowski
  • María del Carmen TrianaEmail author
Original Paper


As men take on more family responsibilities over time, with women still shouldering considerably more childcare and housework, an important ethical matter facing organizations is that of providing a supportive environment to foster employee well-being and balance between work and family. Using conservation of resources theory, this multi-source study examines the association between perceived family responsibility discrimination and work–life conflict as mediated by emotional exhaustion. Employee gender and power distance values are tested as moderators of the perceived family responsibility discrimination to emotional exhaustion relationship. Results suggest that male employees who perceive family responsibility discrimination from their supervisor and hold high power distance values experience increased emotional exhaustion and work–life conflict. Female workers who perceive family responsibility discrimination from their supervisor experience increased emotional exhaustion and work–life conflict regardless of whether they have high or low power distance. Findings are consistent with theory-based predictions from conservation of resources theory: resources that are valued and not provided in the work context deplete emotional energies and ultimately trigger work–life conflict. Findings build on the work–life literature by introducing gender and power distance as factors that shape when employees feel the draining effects of family responsibility discrimination.


Family responsibility discrimination Work–life conflict Power distance Gender Emotional exhaustion Conservation of resources 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Tiffany Trzebiatowski and María del Carmen Triana declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiffany Trzebiatowski
    • 1
  • María del Carmen Triana
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Isenberg School of Management, The University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Management and Human Resources Department, The Wisconsin School of BusinessUniversity of Wisconsin – MadisonMadisonUSA

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