Women's work is never done, study shows Monday, August 09, 2010 | 08:01 PM EDT Montreal -- One woman drank wine while doing her filing. Another read business books in bed. Yet another said she would work before attending a wedding, calling her job a sickness, an obsession. In what may be the first detailed portrait of female business owners and how they design their jobs around the demands of their private lives, two University of Wisconsin Eau Claire scholars have concluded that truly flexible work arrangements are a myth that is leaving female entrepreneurs conflicted and distressed. As business owners, [these women] claim that their occupation affords them flexibility over their work schedules and cite this flexibility as an advantage to balancing work and other aspects of life, assistant professors Kristina Bourne and Pamela Forman argue in a research report presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Montreal. The reality ... was that this supposed flexibility favoured work, causing much angst and tension in the womens lives. Ms. Bourne monitored the lives of 10 women living in the U.S. Northeast from morning until night for a full work week. She found that although the women were generally passionate about their jobs and talked about the freedom of setting their own hours, they also struggled to shut work off. Ultimately, work ruled their lives, she found, and the individuals arranged their schedules to accommodate work, prepare to return to work, or work leisurely during supposed free time. Culturally, it paints an unhappy picture, Ms. Bourne said in an interview Monday. Where are we going to be if people are overworked, burned out, feeling stress and tension and not recognizing it? There is a societal policy implication. One of the reasons the women struggled to balance work and non-work is because they often found themselves working beyond a full work day and work week, the scholars say. The women used various justifications to express their acceptance of that situation. One woman named Jodi, an educational toys saleswoman, told Ms. Bourne, I have a feeling that when you leave [work] at night, you should pretty much leave it behind. Unless you have something specific [you need to do]. Asked if she ever took a day off her business, Jodi said not a whole day. On the 30th, we have a wedding, but Ill work in the morning. Ill work that night. Its a sickness. An obsession. Another woman, a construction consultant named Wendy, went hiking one weekend, saying she needed to be fresher for work. Asked if she gives herself two hours of leisure time the next day if she works an extra two hours at night, Wendy answered that its always a negotiation with the little voice in your mind that says Hey, wait a minute, youre supposed to be working. The scholars say that often the women were engaged in working light, during which they worked during non-work times and eased the burden by combining it with some form of relaxation. Sarah, a management consultant, switched both her beverage of choice and the way she viewed her work after 5 p.m., the research paper notes. While drinking a glass of wine, she spent one evening organizing, typing contacts into the computer and filing, tasks she explains as not bringing in revenue. One entrepreneur named Leslie, a promotional products business owner, acknowledged she brought work home but did some of it while watching television. In talking about her use of evenings or weekends at home to plan business strategies, she said, But thats fun. Its kind of playing.