Another Stupid Survey About Men, Women and Work

I interrupt my hectic schedule (in fact, I made a “No Blog” rule for the week) to rant about the Slate piece on how men and women work the same amount of hours a day. I hate this stuff because the averages hide the truth.

The article, called Couch EntitlementSurprise—men do just as much work as women do features a study that says:

In the United States and other rich countries, men average 5.2 hours of market work a day and 2.7 hours of homework each day, while women average 3.4 hours of market work and 4.5 hours of homework per day. Adding these up, men work an average of 7.9 hours per day, while women work an average of—drum roll, please—7.9 hours per day.

First of all, define “rich”. If the definition is “buried under credit card debt to be like everybody else and have what they have”, than we’re at least being honest.

Secondly, we could correct the male “2.7 hours a day” if they knew how to clean the bathroom and weren’t afraid of soap scum and the things their small sons leave for mom to clean up, because hey, she’s stuck at home “working” 4.5 hours a day for free.

One can only imagine how proud she is to be earning 77 cents, in America, for her 3.4 hours of work that the guys get a full $1.00 for working for their hard earned 5.2 hours.

This just killed me.

And while the gender equal-work phenomenon has been noted before, “it has been swamped by claims in widely circulated sociological studies … that women’s total work significantly exceeds men’s,” as the authors put it. Although men in many rich countries do not work less than women, they do enjoy about 20 to 30 minutes more leisure per day (over an hour more in Italy) because they spend less time on sleep and other biological necessities. Men spend almost all of this additional leisure time watching television.

Mine comes home and plays video games with the boys.

I wondered, what is the definition of “work”? Does it include the 3.5 hour daily commute my husband has every day? Does it include being “mom taxi”, volunteering for your children’s school and sports activities or helping with homework? How many sleep deprived, breastfeeding women of infants, who are “on call” every 1.5 hours, find this to be a “leisure” activity?

I don’t care what that survey says. When I’m not physically working, in a way that can be tracked and observed, my brain is still “working” on what to defrost for dinner, did I get the calendar updated with all the doctors, school activities and sports events and in my case, I’m always thinking about the next article to write, and ways to improve my “work” services. Why is it ME that has to remind everyone that Thursday is trash night? Does nobody else’s brain work in my house?

Am I supposed to take points off for all the times I have to let the dog out to go do his thing because that’s technically not work, or could it equate to say, flirting with the cute person in the cubicle next to yours at work?

The article says:

Many women with demanding careers tell me that it is women working full-time in the market, not women overall, who work more than comparable men. This study cannot settle that question because it does not report work time separately for people with and without market jobs.

I don’t even know what this means. What’s a “market job”? Working from home sounds like a luxury, but I have a husband and an ex-husband who rely on me for all things simple and stupid because “Kim works from home. She can do it.” I work every day, including weekends, without ever needing to leave the house. I watch one TV show a week.

Must be nice to go to work all day.

Wish I’d Said That

Information architecture. Usability. Accessibility. Web standards. If you don’t know about these things, stop designing websites until you have learned. — Jeffrey Zeldman, in Where are the Women? Where are the Links?

Update April 23, 2007 Women Make Less 1 Year After College:

NEW YORK – Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college; after 10 years in the work force, the gap between their pay widens further, according to a study released Monday.

The study, by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, found that 10 years after college, women earn only 69 percent of what men earn.

Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the study found that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained. The group said that portion of the gap is “likely due to sex discrimination.”

“Over time, the unexplained portion of the pay gap grows,” the group said in a news release.

5 thoughts on “Another Stupid Survey About Men, Women and Work

  1. Kim, it’s all wrong — the survey, I mean. Not just for the reasons you mention, but because there’s a real misunderstanding about the differences between men and women.

    See, “market work” is simply a euphemism for “shopping” … and you know how that goes. :)

    I’m sorry; I’m sorry. I just had to do it.

  2. Some men do exactly what you do Kim – and at times some of us have even worked 2 ‘paying’ jobs as well as the unpaid work at home.

    And there are more of us doing that than many people realise.

  3. For sure Stuart. I could go on and on, for both genders. What isn’t clear to me is their survey definition of “work”. I still feel as though I need to show proof that I actually do something worthwhile, because I do it from home.

    And, there are many men I know who are coaches, for example, who work nights and weekends for sports org’s. The Little League I’m involved with has fields that flood several times a year and its mostly the men (coaches and dads) who go out to repair them. I know this only because I was one of few women who went out and worked in the mud.

    So there’s work for pay and work for the soul and work because it’s the right thing to do, reward or no reward.

    Diane, now I understand! Hilarious! LOL

  4. Haha, I saw that article the other day too, knew it’d wind a few people up ;)

    There are a couple things I’d pick you up on though ;)

    “I don’t care what that survey says. When I’m not physically working, in a way that can be tracked and observed, my brain is still “working” on what to defrost for dinner, did I get the calendar updated with all the doctors, school activities and sports events and in my case, I’m always thinking about the next article to write, and ways to improve my “work” services. Why is it ME that has to remind everyone that Thursday is trash night? Does nobody else’s brain work in my house?”

    Heh, in the shared house I’m in, it’s one of the girls who seems to never do her washing up, I always seem to be the one emptying the bin in the kitchen, else it’s left to overflow, I keep the network running in the house, one of the other guys often prompts people about the recycling and bins, etc etc….

    And yeah, when I’m not at work, my mind is either working, or depserately trying to find something to do to stop it working.

    I believe the survey did go on to say that it’s an average, and mentions working mums, and that potentially they do probably have the raw end of the deal. But the survey suggests there are enough other women not doing quite so much stuff to balance things out overall :)

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