NEW YORK - A revealing and depressing article in this month's Harvard Business Review shows that no matter how much power female executives have accrued, or how much lip service male executives might publicly pay, family issues are still seen as a female problem.

Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg and research associate Robin Abrahams looked at interviews of nearly 4,000 C-suite executives conducted by Harvard students from 2008 to last year. Forty-four per cent of the interviewees were female. And while the men and women often had the same job titles, the similarities ended there.

The first difference between male and female executives is in the way they frame work-life conflicts. Men tend to choose work without regret when conflicts arise, because they frame their family role as "breadwinner". This seems to alleviate any guilt.

One interviewee says he does not regret his divorce because he was always a good provider and was able to achieve his goals, and now he spends more time with his children on weekends.

Another says: "The 10 minutes I give my children at night is one million times greater than spending that 10 minutes at work."

As the authors point out, most women would not brag about spending only 10 minutes a day with their children.

Contrast this with how a female executive frames her experience: "When you are paid well, you can get all the (practical) help you need. What is the most difficult thing though - what I see my women friends leave their careers for - is the real emotional guilt of not spending enough time with their children. The guilt of missing out."

That women are paying for the practical help - while male executives tend to get such help from a stay-at-home spouse - might explain the guilt differential.

Per the article, "fully 88 per cent of the men are married, compared with 70 per cent of the women. And 60 per cent of the men have spouses who don't work full-time outside home, compared with only 10 per cent of the women. The men have an average of 2.22 children; the women, 1.67".

Women interviewed were more likely to say they avoided marriage and children entirely because they do not want to deal with the potential conflict. "Because I'm not a mother, I haven't experienced the major driver of inequality: having children," one woman said. "People assume that if you don't have children, then you either can't have children or else you're a hard-driving (person). So I haven't had any negative career repercussions, but I've probably been judged personally."

The most disheartening thing about the survey results is that executives of both genders continue to see the tension between work and family as a women's problem.

Male executives admit they do not prioritise their families enough, and they do not seem too bothered by it. They praise their spouses for taking over the home front entirely, while female executives praise their spouses for not interfering with their careers.

As Ms Rebecca Traister recently pointed out in the New Republic, when we are trying to solve the problem of not enough women in the upper echelons of business, technology and politics, we always direct these conversations at women themselves.

"Lean in!" we tell them. "Marry a man who will stay at home!" But the problem here is not women's lack of ambition or, necessarily, their lack of support at home.

The issue is that we need to get men to acknowledge work-life conflicts as an "everyone issue", not a women's or mum's issue.