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Revista Brasileira de Orientação Profissional

versão impressa ISSN 1679-3390versão On-line ISSN 1984-7270

Rev. bras. orientac. prof vol.16 no.2 Florianópolis dez. 2015




Career and family life: a study of bank executives


Carreira e vida familiar: um estudo com executivos bancários


Carrera y vida familiar: un estudio con ejecutivos bancarios



Andrea Poleto OltramariI; Carmem Ligia Iochins GrisciI; Claudia Sirangelo EccelII

IEscola de Administração da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
IIPrograma de Pós-graduação em Psicologia da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul





This article aimed to describe the implications considering the choice for banking career in the division of family labor and its consequences for women´s professional life. The theoretical and empirical study included 14 interviews with seven couples, all men were bank executives. Collective categories were constructed during the analysis and were discussed considering the theoretical framework, especially gender and career. The results indicate workload for the wives of bankers and losses relating to their own career as a result of the need to follow their husbands across the geographic mobility that banks impose to them. Banking careers wind up repeating the man's role as the main financial provider in the family.

Keywords: banking job, career, banker, family life


Este artigo objetivou descrever as implicações da escolha pela carreira bancária na divisão do trabalho familiar e suas consequências para a vida profissional das mulheres. Para tanto, o estudo teórico-empírico contou com a realização de 14 entrevistas em profundidade com sete casais, sendo todos os homens executivos bancários. A análise de conteúdo resultou em categorias de cunho coletivo discutidas à luz do referencial teórico, especialmente, gênero e carreira. Os resultados indicam sobrecarga de trabalho para as esposas de executivos bancários, bem como prejuízos relativos à sua própria carreira em decorrência da necessidade de acompanharem seus esposos frente à mobilidade geográfica que os bancos lhes impõem. As carreiras bancárias acabam por reiterar o papel do homem como principal provedor financeiro na família.

Palavras-chave:  trabalho bancário, carreira, executivo bancário, vida familiar


Este artículo tuvo como objetivo describir las consecuencias de la elección de carrera bancaria en la división del trabajo familiar y sus consecuencias para la vida profesional de las mujeres. Así, el estudio teórico y empírico incluye la realización de 14 entrevistas con siete parejas, siendo todos los hombres ejecutivos bancarios. Durante el análisis fueron construidas categorías colectivas, y fueron discutidas tomando en cuenta el marco teórico, considerando especialmente los de género y de carrera. Los resultados indican la carga de trabajo para las esposas de los banqueros, y las pérdidas relativas sobre su propia carrera como consecuencia de la necesidad de seguir a sus esposos a través de la movilidad geográfica que los bancos les impone a los hombres. Las Carreras Bancarias terminan repitiendo el papel del hombre como el principal proveedor financiero en la familia.

Palabras clave: trabajo bancario, carrera, banquero, vida familiar



Authors have shown clear concern for studies about the attempts to juggle work, family, and career (Wall, 2010b) and about the negotiation related to home and work activities (Araújo, Rosa & Tureta, 2012); as well as about the conflicts between work and family (Silva & Rossetto, 2010). Notwithstanding, depending on the profession, the devotion to one's career will demand more time than do domestic tasks. That is perceived, for instance, by bank employees who can hardly juggle work and family life (Oltramari & Grisci, 2012; Oltramari, Grisci & Weber, 2011; Weber & Grisci, 2011).

Some authors discuss about career and its effects on lifestyles. Gaulejac (2007), for example, does research about managers who never go on vacation because not being at work would be unbearable to them. Situations like that, combined with technologies that make connection with work easier, have to do with decisions about life in general and, especially, about family life. Withdrawal from family life (Oltramari, Grisci & Weber, 2011) or from leisure time (Weber & Grisci, 2011) are regarded as career differentials from the perspective of the managerial logic (Gaulejac, 2007).

In Brazil, studies on the imbalance between personal and professional life (Tanure, Carvalho Neto, & Andrade, 2007) often reveal the distress resulting from the stress caused by the overload of responsibilities, chiefly those related to corporate work. These studies mainly show that Brazilian executives reach the top faster because of their renouncement of family life.

Thus, as far as the quest for a successful career is concerned, the dynamics between work and family life is thrown off balance. In this respect, special attention should be given to the type of profession, the way the caretaking of children and household chores are shared, and the number of hours worked. Working for a bank illustrates what has been going on in terms of imbalance between work and family. The fast-paced changes in the banking sector implies, for example, the creation of icons such as the so-called Bank 24 hours, Bank 30 hours, Manager Available Till Midnight, which indicate the strict routine on financial markets. Relocation is also part of a banking career, since "the requirement of a new working style in the banking sector which, given its inevitability, is gradually assimilated by individuals is related to the human consequences of mobility resulting from productive restructuring" (Grisci, 2006, p.39). Relocation is one of the preponderant characteristics of the modern bank employee. Relocation interferes directly, for instance, with the way of work and the way of life of bank employees and of their families.

The family and work environments are considered to be the organizing principles in people's lives (Santos, 2013; Santos & Casado, 2011). And both have undergone economic and social changes. Wall (2010a) conducted a study on couples and on their (im)possibility to carve out their careers and organize their everyday family environment, which depends on how hard both, man and woman, want to work so as to build their careers. Nonetheless, the author noted that gender influenced decisions: women, in general, decide to give up their careers in order to stand by their husbands, helping them build their careers instead.

Oltramari and Grisci (2012) associate career with the notion of immaterial work, dealing with the inability to dissociate working and non-working hours. Therefore, in building their careers, bank employees clearly perceive their personal life being swallowed up by their professional life. Bank employees work overtime, checking e-mails, solving pending problems constantly, networking, and participating in social events with professional purposes. In their study, they also showed the dominant role of wives as supporters of their husbands' careers in the banking sector, with implications for their own career and for the sharing of domestic tasks and this explains why this study prioritizes executives wives taking as support theoretical framework, especially concerning gender and career. Based on these facts, the present paper seeks to answer the following question: what are the implications of choosing a banking career for the sharing of housework and for the CEO´s wives?

In order to describe the implications of choosing a banking career for the sharing of housework and for the CEO´s wives, and more specifically, its impact on the professional lives of women, this paper is structured as follows: the introduction contextualizes the topic, and presents the research question and the general goal. The literature review presents aspects of gender and the labor market; the banking sector; the sharing of domestic tasks and career. Following, the presentation and analysis of results. Finally, it is presented the final considerations.

Gender and labor market

Differences between men and women are not concerned only to the body. Society has the necessity to reintegrate them transforming the body subject also in social inequalities which reach in a different way women from the whole world. However, women work had to do to a distinct sphere enclosed to private family life (Leonard, 2002). For a long time female work had been seen as an extension of household work. The "ideal worker" was seen as a male model, specially that one connected to managing roles. Female principles and values, for instance, intuitive work, emotion, absence of hierarchy and authority (Ferguson, 1984) were relegated to routine tasks.

History tells women have a tendency to be more focused to familiar life than men. This factor is important to understand why their ascendance is less continuous and less successful. According to Holzmann (2006) work gender division is related to the productive and reproductive activity taking into consideration gender. Historically, reproductive work, which has to do with household world, is addressed to women, while productive work related to public space and which represents to have more status are addressed to men. Such division was, initially, based on biological aspect and was, worldwide, contested by family movements (Carrieri, Souza, & Aguiar, 2014; Diniz, Carrieri, Gandra, & Bicalho, 2013; Eccel, 2010).

Productive and reproductive work is valued differently. Household tasks are not paid, whereas the productive ones, as for the executives, for example, are very well paid (Tanure, Carvalho Neto, & Andrade, 2007). The burden of the household world is still performed by women even when they are employed. They take care of the house and the children, as it was shown in the works by Marcondes et al. (2003) e Wall (2010a). The difference between men and women lies in the inequalities as for the value of female and male work (Hirata & Kergoat, 1998).

This division between productive and reproductive work is one of the main organizing elements in the view of Marcondes et al. (2003), of the hierarchy attribution and value which legitimates what would be a "real work" conceding power to whom performs the productive work and perpetuating the conditions to the division and inequality between genders. The value of the work of woman, even though many of them have started marked work, continues connected to the submission to household work. Therefore, work and woman identity continue being reproduced as that position of taking care of the house, the children and the others (Eccel, 2010).

The management occupation, however, is being performed by men. Rizek and Leite (1998) point out that the justification to higher woman to positions at work which do not demand high qualification is because their capabilities and abilities, "naturally feminine" such as fine motricity, patience and details are to do with simple work, differently from managerial work, which demands mobility, capacity of decision and persuasion, characteristics of what would be male work.

Bank careers are so presented; they can be seen this way. They do not change the social-cultural profile performed to these days, especially considering gender and as a consequence the division of familiar work. Following, bank career is dealt with.

Banking Career in Brazil

After the productive restructuring in the banking sector, especially in the 1990s, banking jobs achieved a differentiated status on the financial market. Their past characteristics, with bureaucratic and specialized functions, took on a business consultancy position, which leads the worker to offer and sell a wide range of products and services to his/her customers. By demanding supply of information, knowledge, services and values from the worker, the banking job highlights subjective traits rather than technical professional qualifications.

The new ways of banking, especially those related to relationship management, are heightened by image management, whose goal is to associate the customer satisfaction image (Grisci, 2008) and the banking employee's image management (Grisci, De Deus, Rodrigues, Rech, & De Gois, 2015; Grisci, Becker, Scalco, & Kruter, 2008).

The career perspectives of bank employees, in this scenario, involve career self-management even if it occurs at a single bank. What is absolutely essential is that the individual be strictly in line with the organizational project, which sets up increasingly demanding goals. As a result, family life ends up relegated to the background.

When the banking executive notices that he/she is the only one accountable for his/her career, he/she is faced with choices that may be successful in the professional environment to the detriment of the family environment. Regardless of the choices, studies such as those of Oltramari, Grisci and Weber (2011) demonstrated that family might be either the victim or the victimizer. In what follows, the next item deals with the sharing of housework, more specifically with family structure, and with career progression.

Sharing of Housework and Career Progression: Evidence for Brazil

There are several rich and detailed studies about careers and sharing of housework in Brazil. Here, we present those that are concerned with the impact of men's and women's career choices on women's daily housework. Even though women's participation in the labor market has increased considerably (Leone & Baltar, 2008), earnings between men and women do differ (Carvalho Neto, Tanure, & Andrade, 2010; Leone & Baltar, 2008), mainly in some positions (e.g., manager), in agreement with the study of Madalozzo (2011), which reveals the lesser frequency of women in higher positions.

In common parlance, it is quite usual to hear that some men "help" with the household tasks, highlighting the deep-rooted misperception that housework is a responsibility that does not rest with them. Nevertheless, several studies assessed the hiring of other women to carry out housework, showing that raising children has been outsourced (Cramer, Paula Neto, & Silva, 2002; Hirata & Kergoat, 1998; Wall, 2010) even if women kept their double work shift (Santos, 2013; Santos & Casado, 2011; Silva & Rossetto, 2010).

As to the lifestyles that have arisen from the participation of married women in the labor market, the studies revealed several problems, such as male detachment and separation (Silva & Rossetto, 2010); infrequent participation of men in family activities (Carvalho Neto, Tanure & Andrade, 2010); a heavy double work shift (Madalozzo, Martins, & Shiratori, 2008); problems related to emotional stress, characterized by headache, sleeping disorders, and difficulty starting new activities (Guimarães & Petean, 2012), in addition to the increased incidence of typically male illnesses, such as stress and heart diseases (Melo, Cappelle, Mageste, & Brito, 2004).

At the same time, some studies show family rearrangements resulting from the participation of both husbands and wives in the labor market, especially related to the entry of women into it (Montali, 2006); as well as career construction and success of both men and women (Santos, 2012; Santos, 2013; Santos & Casado, 2011); while other studies demonstrate the marital professional models in which men are acknowledged as the sole breadwinners (Madalozzo, 2011; Wall, 2010).

Gilbert and Rauchlin (1987), in turn, draw attention to three variations in the nuclear family structure based on marital relationships and career progression: the traditional family, the dual-earner family and the dual-career family. The traditional family, according to those authors, is that in which the husband is the only breadwinner and the wife devotes herself full-time to household tasks. In the dual-earner family, both husband and wife work outside the home; however, career is not a priority for either of them. And, in the dual-career family, both husband and wife have a career, which is a priority.

One of the reasons for the entry of women into the market concerns the need to increase family income and to survive unemployment (Montali, 2006). Other studies assess development and career-focused lifestyle, especially with respect to women's higher schooling level (Santos, 2012).

Some studies underscore that the entry of women into the labor market may, at times, be hallmarked by greater "deterioration," given the worse quality positions available (Barros, 2001; Lavinas, 1997; Oliveira, 2003), by wage differences (Guimarães & Petean, 2012) and, besides, by the overload of domestic chores (Cramer, Paula Neto & Silva, 2002; Wall, 2010b).

According to Jonathan and Silva (2007), if both man and woman work, the more time devoted to work, the poorer the family life quality. In their study, they realized that a strategy to juggle work and family life is to rely on the help of other caregivers, such as housemaids and grandparents.

Depending on the profession and on the earnings received, the couple will negotiate who will invest more in the career (Wall, 2010a). The studies of Wall (2010a) deal with the traditional view that the man is the main provider and that the woman supports his professional path by taking on administrative and routine tasks or by giving up her career. If the woman decides to enter the labor market with greater chances of promotion, the husband will hardly share the domestic chores and childcare with her. These are, as pointed out by Wall (2010b, p. 110), "the rights granted to man for being the major provider in the family." However, a helping husband would bring, according to the author, some proximity and companionship between the couple. This fact was also observed by Silva and Rossetto (2010).



Study design

The theoretical-empirical design, following Minayo (2001), determined the search for information. A theoretical-empirical study is characterized as the link between the theory built to explain or to shed some light upon a phenomenon, and empiricism, which segments the reality to be analyzed and seeks more explanations both in the theory and in the method. The theoretical-empirical study therefore allows establishing a dialogue between the existing theory and the problem to be investigated.


The present study included 14 participants (7 couples). They attended necessarily the following criteria: to be in a stable relationship, and to be banker husband. All men are banking executives, two wives are bank clerks without a managing position, one is a civil servant, one is a small entrepreneur and three wives are not formally employed. In the banking sector, a banking executive is that worker who has an intermediate or high managing position in a public or private organization. The executives were contacted by telephone, upon their availability, when they were told about the goals of the study and when the interview was scheduled, if they agreed to participate. They suggested their wives being interviewed. Fourteen interviews were then conducted. In order to organize their words, husbands and wives are identified in the text with a letter of the alphabet uppercase, starting at A and ending in G, followed by the number 1 to men and number 2 for women.

Data collection and analysis

The first contacts allowed for empirical inferences about the sharing of domestic tasks. There were many setbacks to contact the study subjects: unreplied e-mails and unsuccessful phone calls. Thus, the working routine of the interviewees, which extended into their personal lives, was anticipated. From the contacts of the researchers, there were other possibilities of interviews, constituting a practice called "snowball". The executives were interviewed in their places of work while their wives were interviewed in commercial establishments, such as cafes and bars in the city where they lived, or in their homes.

For data collection, an individual in-depth interview was performed. The interviews lasted about 60 minutes and followed a script set for executives and their wives, which included the following aspects: everyday family routine; wives' perception about the construction of their husbands' careers; help with domestic chores; family healthcare; participation of the family in the executive's professional path. The interviews were recorded and transcribed with the consent of respondents who previously gave written informed consent form that reported the confidentiality and non-mandatory continuing in the research by the interviewee.

The analysis of the interviewees' replies followed the instructions proposed by Minayo (2001). This way, the interviews consisted of three essential and mutually enriching steps: the face-to-face interview, the listening to the recording and the transcript reading. From the analysis of the interviews resulted collective categories a posteriori, namely: earnings, qualification, spatial mobility, concern for others and for family members and time management, which were discussed considering the categories of work, gender and sharing of housework.



This section describes and analyzes the study results. The categories were determined before the fieldwork, in the exploratory phase, and after data collection, as proposed by Minayo (2001). Thereafter, the categories were compared and, after successive reflections hinged upon the theoretical background, the final categories were obtained, namely: earnings, qualification, spatial mobility, care of others and of family members, and time management.


Male identity is symbolically linked to superiority and to a power that rests upon the better qualification and higher earnings of husbands compared to those of the respective wives. Earnings determine the family's lifestyle and spatial mobility. Wife A2 said: "My husband's wage is bigger; therefore, in case of relocation imposed by the bank, the decision always takes into account his career." Chênevert and Tremblay (2002) pointed out that the determinants of limited success in a woman's career are the family and the expectations of poorer reward. Although domestic tasks are also carried out by the husbands, as they are the breadwinners, they can impose the work-family behavior, i.e., they can take on fewer household chores. This also imposes that the husband's earnings are a determinant factor for spatial mobility and that the wife's earnings are a complement to family income, especially in relocation to cities/towns where the cost of living is higher, as mentioned by A2: "we only moved away when I managed to pass a competition exam, as we knew that over there everything would be more expensive; this way, my income would help with the household expenses."

Other statements refer to man as the sole breadwinner. G1, for instance, states that: "We decided that she would not work because of these very frequent relocations and because we never know where we're going." D1 ponders that it is important that either the husband or the wife have a fixed wage, and the couple had decided that it would be his.

As to profitability and achievement of goals, the meaning of career for executives has to do with making time profitable. To do that, the interviewees said they devote around 15 hours every day to work and, that way, their wives dedicate themselves full-time to domestic tasks and childcare. Another statement about the husband's dedication to work is the following: "If the bank sets up targets of one million, the superintendence must reach two millions. And that requires total dedication to the bank" (G1). Thus, Carvalho Neto, Tanure and Andrade (2010) asseverate that the higher the husband's wage, the less likely it is that the wife will work outside the home.

B1 affirms that little can he juggle his job and the domestic chores and childcare, and thus his wife ends up taking on these activities. B1's wife is also a bank employee; however, her position involves routine tasks without any perspective of career growth. She works as a business operator and the bank where she works has branches all over the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, and so it is easier for her to accompany her husband. However, as it is a state-owned bank, the husband is careful not to be transferred out of the state so that his wife can continue working and complementing the family income: "What helps with the transfers is the fact that my wife can continue working, since she is also a bank clerk. And that helps with the household expenses" (B1).

The work-family model, in both of the cases mentioned, concerns a male career model with female support. This fact is legitimized by the implied understanding that the rights to opt for the man's career are recognized by the fact that he is the breadwinner in the family, a characteristic of hegemonic manliness (Connell, 2003). The work-family model, in this case, is built upon the support wives give to their husbands. Wives know that, in order for them to dedicate themselves to their career, they will have to delegate, even if partially, their household activities and childcare to the grandparents or to housemaids. While the husbands work at the bank, the wives tidy up the household and manage the family.


The construction of careers, in this study, was unequal in terms of qualification between men and women, especially after childbirth. This fact is corroborated by the studies of Madalozzo (2011) and Vanalli and Barham (2012) that assess the difficulties associated with resuming one's career and one's studies after having children. Also, while the husband invests in job qualification, the wife takes on the housework. As pointed out by Cramer, Paula Neto and Silva (2002), while job qualification is associated with men, housework is inherent to women.

The fact that, for example, B2 also works, decreased the possibility to juggle work, family and self-care. She says that doing household chores and looking after her children is so demanding that there is no time left for her to continue her studies, as she would love to, nor to take care of her health and appearance. Wives' qualification is therefore characterized by interruptions. Both, husband and wife, seek to convey their children the idea that, to build a career, especially a man's career, they will have to work "round the clock." The imperative of velocity reshuffles family relationships towards children's careers.

G2 goes to law school and struggles to finish it. She already has a degree in biology, but, for having to move towns frequently, she cannot build her career in her field. She gives up her own career so that her husband can carve out his and, therefore, it is he who does the courses required by the bank and the necessary specialization or graduate programs on the nightshift or on weekends. "He is taking up English classes, he has just finished a specialization course. If he has free time during the weekend, he always tries to do something useful, either some class or course" (G2). This fact is in line with the studies of Cramer, Paula Neto and Silva (2002), which point out that qualification has to do with the male role whereas household chores are considered women's attributions. Carvalho Neto, Tanure and Andrade (2010) also agree that men can historically invest more in their careers, compared to women.

In the case of executive G1, his wife adjusts to his demands. "I support my husband's decisions. He cannot stop or he will lose his position" (G2). The wife believes her husband will move up to the highest position allowed by the bank. By analyzing the differences between the wife's and her husband's statements, we note that the executive clearly perceives that he does not get involved with anything that has to do with housework, especially regarding time for his wife's qualification. However, that is not the wife's perception, who says that whenever he has some time, he looks after the house and the children. The wife totally supports her husband's absence, understanding that he must build his career. Therefore, stereotypes and hegemonic patterns are strengthened, sustaining the choice for the man's successful career.

Spatial mobility

The wife consents and endeavors to sustain her husband's ambition and to guarantee his career progression even if spatial mobility is required. This fact can be evinced from A2's statement: "I've never been a hindrance, so I think I helped by allowing him to move away without further ado. I've always been willing to go along."

C1 dreads getting stuck in a position and accepts the transfers according to his own will. Currently, he works as superintendent for two bank branches in different Brazilian states. The wife, in this case, preferred not to move along but to stay in the town where they started out on their careers. The wife also works for a bank, but she has not allowed her career to boost because of the transfers. Thus, her position in the bank involves customer services. For the time being, they have decided not to have children as the couple does not share domestic activities, as stated by the husband: "at present, we haven't been able to share anything. I get home on weekends and still have to work more for the bank. We haven't shared the domestic responsibilities" (C1). Aside from that, the husband lives far away, as C2 puts it, which refrains them from sharing the responsibilities related to the couple's personal life. Carvalho Neto, Tanure and Andrade (2010) affirm that it is harder for the woman to have her husband and children move to another town because of the demands made by the firm she works for, but the opposite is quite more common. C2 also reveals that her husband is the one who has control over and decides about the transfers: "It's me who controls the transfers. Me and my wife talk about it, but the decisions are up to me. There isn't much time to think about it. Things happen too fast before we can mull them over and discuss them at home."

D1 got divorced. His daughters, still quite young, do not live with him, which, in his understanding, makes moving away and taking care of his career easier. He remarried, and his present wife (D2) moves along wherever he goes. She owns a store and says that if she needs to accompany her husband, she closes down the store and reopens it elsewhere. D1 declares he gets home in the evening and that more often than not he takes work home with him. As to healthcare, the wife helps her husband, corroborating the sharing of work mentioned by Holzmann (2006).

In some studies on career abandonment, it was observed that women give up their career more often than do men (Mainiero & Sullivan, 2005; Santos, 2013; Sullivan & Mainiero, 2007). Also, the need to make a decision that could result in women giving up on their careers usually occurs when spatial mobility is required. F1 has been transferred six times since 1981, when he started out on his banking career, and his wife, who has never worked outside the home, has accompanied him in all of them. The husband says that it is difficult to juggle work and domestic tasks.

When spatial mobility becomes necessary or is chosen, the husband then consolidates and underscores his role as the breadwinner. Moreover, spatial mobility and the possibility to move through the business world are pointed out by Connell (1998) and Kimmel (1998) as constituents of the hegemonic image of the executive who is endowed with economic, decisive and technical powers at organizations.

In general, the family supports this model, especially when there are gains such as investments in technological equipment in the household, which take up the family space and change it into a working place (Tose, Covre, Siqueira & Binotto, 2009) and significant improvement in living conditions and status (Oltramari, 2010).

Women, in this case, feel the need to support changes: "I've stood by him a lot and I think family contributes a lot by giving support, allowing him to keep a clear head and be ready for work. When you have a family, some things get in the way of your work. I've always tried to give him peace of mind" (E2). Family, in E2's point of view, is seen as a hindrance to career progression. Therefore, willingness to support the husband's career is crucial in spatial mobility.

Some statements illustrate the difficulties surrounding transfers and the wife's willingness: "transfers are always informed at short notice and, in general, the decisions must be taken right away. Quite often, we are not asked about it, but it is an ´invitation´ imposed on us. We comment about it at home and they begin to prepare themselves, I mean, wife, children" (B1).

B1 and B2 decided that they will slow down relocations, as soon as they decide to have children. However, that has not been fulfilled, thereby corroborating the studies of Grisci, Cigerza, Hofmeister and Becker (2006), which deal with the involuntary nomadism of banks.

Concern for others and for family members

Concern for other family members is not followed by the husband's effort to change his attitude towards the sharing of housework. Besides, negligence over family care and care of others is also noted, as reported by G1: "I'm at a stage of my career at which I cannot allow myself to have leisure time, stay with my family." So, they decided that the wife would be the caregiver: "We decided that she would not work because of these very frequent relocations and because we never know where we're going." Wall (2010b), in his studies on Portuguese families, declares that in the 1940s and 1950s the government did not need to create governmental mechanisms for family policies because, back then, women used to care for all dependents (children, husbands, or elderly). This is seen in banking careers that have not changed the sociocultural profile, especially with regard to gender.

It is not uncommon for wives to bear the blame if something goes wrong in the family environment, as in their perception, this should be their duty and not their husbands': "if our son succeeds, I'll be showered with praise. But if he doesn't, the blame will fall on me. Because I wasn't supposed to call my husband and ask him what to do. Is he going to that school, listen, should he take this vaccine or not? I had to decide those things myself. I shouldn't ever ask anything. He told me to call him as little as possible, not to put him to any bother" (F2).

Note that the work and total dedication model is reproduced in children's upbringing. Both, executives and their wives, tend to decide on their children's professional future. Staying away from the family is necessary so that the executive continues to be the financial provider, but it is also considered by executives as a possibility to open doors to their children's professional future, in addition to regarding themselves as a role model their children should draw inspiration from for their future careers.

In general, the interviewed executives work a lot at home and thus cannot enjoy their free time with their families. This fact is corroborated by Weber and Grisci (2011), who show that banking executives face the following dilemma: if they opt for leisure, they preserve the family relationships, but are looked down on by their peers; if they opt for work, they preserve the relationship and collegiality, but get complaints from the family.

Oltramari (2010) also demonstrated that work that involves the achievement of targets is done outside the working hours established by a job contract.

Time management

It was observed that men have a specific timetable for their work activities while women's stint has an emotional side, devoted to household chores, childcare, husband, and others, including the grandparents. Gender studies have shown that women have succeeded in increasing their participation in economic activity; however, this often means working double shifts, as they are still responsible for domestic tasks (Leone & Baltar, 2008). This fact is also observed in the present study.

The contributions to the husband's working time and career are made by the wife: "I think collaborating is to let him be more free for work. We can't even count on him for the school meeting, or to look after the children, in this another life we lead, the family one, this is difficult" (A2). On weekends, when the husband is more available, the wife reports that the family goes to social meetings, all of which are often associated with social activities organized by the bank.

Furthermore, B1's wife also looks after his health. In general, banking work is characterized by the demand and appropriation of executives' intellectuality and their total availability for work (Oltramari, 2010). This makes them want to render their time profitable, leading to work-related stress, which directly affects their physical and mental health. Because of that, it is not uncommon for the banks to require health exams on a yearly basis. The wives say that medical exams and appointments are scheduled by them.

G1's participation in family activities is almost nonexistent. "I travel a lot, I don't even known my children's teacher's name. This is taken care of by my wife. I never go to any events, school meetings, school performances" (G1). Out-of-home activities, such as control of bank accounts, are also done by the wife: "My wife controls everything. I don't even know my bank account number. I know nothing about my children's school, I forget their birthdays. My wife does everything, controls everything. It is she who looks after the children, after their health and nutrition, after the house. I basically don't do anything" (G1). Therefore, in terms of career construction, there is a male predominance (Touraine, 2011).


Final remarks

The aim of this paper was to describe the implications of choosing a banking career on the sharing of housework and its consequences on women's professional life, which eventually corroborates the role of men as providers. In general, some findings can be highlighted, such as the women's overlapping roles of wife, mother, and housewife. In regard to women's work, it may be pointed out that it extends to the home with the imposition of domestic tasks, especially for banking executives' wives. Thus, there exists an occupational effect for wives, even when they accompany their husbands in their relocations and give up their own careers.

In addition, interruptions in women's careers are more frequent, mainly due to the exclusive dedication of wives to their husbands' careers. Moreover, more specifically in the banking sector, the higher the husband's schooling, the greater his desire to build a successful career.

In this study, it was noted that a banking executive's commitment towards his family is minimal. It is not uncommon for wives to "buy" this work-family model, as they perceive that the family's standard of living can be improved. Hence, it is the man who dictates the rules and symbolically takes on a superior role (Wall, 2010b). According to Connell (1998), among other authors, the world gender order is undeniably patriarchal. Practical advantages result from this unequal power system, in which men have higher wages and control over political power, wealth, and violence than do women.

Therefore, time is not managed in a way that allows the couple to share domestic tasks. Husbands recognize the efforts put in by their wives to look after the children and the house, but they are not willing to change this behavior. Work-family problems arose when relocations became frequent in married couples' lives.

The present study shows the difficulties in solving processes that tend to perpetuate the deep-rooted gender relationships and those relationships that make a distinction of power within the family. Specificities exist in the banking sector, but reality is reflected through its historical reproduction, upon the inequalities and dichotomies presented by gender studies.

This way, wives are responsible for the reorganization of domestic life, for childcare, for the relative availability to spatial mobility, and for the support given to their husbands' banking career, even if that results in their giving up theirs. No or little effort is made by men in order to change their behavior in the traditional sharing of domestic tasks (Wall, 2010a).

It should be remarked that during the interviews, women's statements were not complaints about this sharing of housework and about the role they were supposed to play. Quite on the contrary, they know that in order for their husbands to grow professionally and for their marriages to last, they must give up their own careers. It is not uncommon to find successful women in organizations who are either single or separated and who have decided to postpone or forgo motherhood (Tanure, Carvalho Neto & Andrade, 2006) because of their career. Recent data published by Instituto Brasileiro Geografia e Estatística (2012) reveal that the percentage of childless women among those aged 30 to 34 years increased to 25.6% in 2011 compared to 18.3% in 2001; the same applies to women aged 35 to 39 years (18% in 2011 against 12.3% in 2001). Conversely, it is easier for men to remarry, as demonstrated by Eccel (2010).

The present study views the assumption of a type of family or marital relationship that has been going through intense changes as a limitation. There are studies that report on the existence of nuclear families with a different structure such as: single-parent families, when a person, either a man or a woman, is unmarried or does not have a partner, and lives with one or several children, and homosexual families, that is, two same-sex persons with foster children, or only a spouse with another partner, or even big generational difference between couples. Aside from that, it is understood as a limitation the fact that work-family conflict also happen tow woman bank executive, an element that was not discussed in this article and that guides future research.

It is emphasized that the banker career generates conflict with the domestic sphere and family, however, it is understood that this is a major part of the problem, which does not happen only in bank sector, but in many other sectors, which can be studied after. It is believed that the contribution of this study lies with the visibility of the peculiarities that characterize the current family life, and that sometimes are made invisible as a result of power relations that transit with regard to gender and division family labor.



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Rua Washington Luiz, 855, Centro Histórico
90010-460, Porto Alegre-RS.

Recebido 08/09/14
1ª Revisão 26/08/15
Aceite Final 22/11/15



Sobre as autoras
Andrea Poleto Oltramari é Professora do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração, da Escola de Administração da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
Carmem Ligia Iochins Grisci é Professora Associada do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Administração, da Escola de Administração da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.
Claudia Sirangelo Eccel é Professora Visitante do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.

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