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Work and Family Research: Moving the Field Forward

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I continue to be struck by how work and family issues are woven into the fabric of my life. Just in the last month, I've talked with others about their work and family issues--finding quality childcare for a newborn, caring for aging parents, helping an ill spouse to recover and reluctance to take time off from a new hire.

As we celebrate National Work and Family Month, many HuffPost bloggers are writing about the work and family challenges facing Americans today, and particularly about how employees and effective employers are addressing these issues. These bloggers have been drawing upon a deep reservoir of work and family scholarship. This is notable because 25 years ago, work and family was not considered a field of study that needed to be examined and addressed.

In the last two decades, we have accumulated a mountain of research about work and family issues. Recently, for example, we've seen new research about topics as diverse as the workplace gender gap , the cost of employee turnover, and how economic insecurity is affecting modern families. Work and family research is conducted in countless different disciplines--anthropology, business and management, child development, demography, economics, education, family studies, gender studies, gerontology, history, industrial relations, labor studies, medicine, political science, psychology, public health, social work, sociology and probably more! Because really, no matter what your field of study, who isn't interested in understanding and solving these problems?

To mark National Work and Family Month, I want to let you know about a new organization dedicated to building both a virtual and face-to-face community among multidisciplinary work and family scholars. The newly formed Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) is an international membership organization that carries on the legacy of the Sloan Work and Family Research Network. Unique among professional societies, the WFRN provides an online peer community with tools to strengthen connections between the global audience interested in work and family. There are many ways to get involved:

Connect: You can connect with your work and family colleagues from around the world online and in person at our 2012 conference where the latest research will be presented .

Learn: You can search our subject matter repository, the Work and Family Commons, stay current with the latest news via our news feed, and learn about upcoming events on our calendar. You can also visit our Sloan Network Archive of materials from the former Sloan Network. You do not have to be a member to access these resources, but we invite you to join us.

Contribute: You can share your research via our subject matter repository, the Work and Family Commons, keep us updated on the latest news (e.g., blogs, news articles, newsletters) via our News Feed, and post your events on our calendar. You can take a leadership role in the work and family community by joining a committee or serving as an elected officer.

For National Work and Family Month, let's ensure the vitality of work and family scholarship and make certain that high-quality research continues to be available and accessible. Work and family research can inform and guide us as we work together to understand and address work and family issues in the 21st century.