Men Work Longer Hours Than Women, Says Bureau Of Labor Statistics Report — But Only If You Discount The Work We Do Outside The Office
Americans spend a lot of time at work, but it seems that, interestingly enough, men spend more than women... or do they? According to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men tend to work longer hours that women — but if you look closer at the issue, that isn't the whole picture. The statement "men work longer hours than women" may only be true if you only consider "work" to be time spent at the office — because based on the rest of the findings, women put in a lot more work every day than just what we spend at our jobs. It's a reminder that numbers can only tell us so much, and that context — cultural and otherwise — cannot be ignored.
According to the report, the average American worker spends 7.6 hours at work on the days they work, with men spending an average 42 minutes more at work per workday. This is at least partly due to the fact that women are more likely to work part time as opposed to full time than men are, but even taking this into account, men work an about an extra 25 minutes per work day. It may not seem like a ton, but it does add up over time.
In and of itself, this is not particularly new or striking information. We've known for a while now that men tend to put in more time at the office — which, frustratingly, is one of the arguments people use to claim that women don't deserve equal pay. After all, they argue, if women on average aren't working as hard, why should we on average be paid as much?
However, despite the many headlines that have proclaimed that men work more than women, the Bureau of Labor Statistics report doesn't actually find anything so simple. Women do, on average, spend less time at their job; however, they also spend a much greater amount of time on average doing unpaid but still vital labor such as housework and childcare.
85 percent of women spend some time doing housework on an average day, as opposed to only 67 percent of men. On days they do housework, women spend an average of 30 minutes more on housework activities than men do. When it comes to childcare, the trend continues; depending on the specific childcare activity, women spend as much as double the amount of time on childcare than men do. Women also spend far less time on leisure activities each day than men do.
In other words, women probably work longer hours — they're just not the hours people get paid for.
The devaluing of women's labor has been going on for centuries, and it's still a part of our world today. Things like raising children, buying and preparing food, and making sure we don't all live in filth are absolutely vital parts of society. Society would not exist without them. But because our culture is structured in such a way that these things aren't paid or otherwise compensated, they get foisted off onto women and aren't taken seriously.
Thus, if the state of women's leisure time is any indication, women just don't have enough time to spend extra hours at the office.
It still doesn't mean we don't deserve equal pay, though. As Bobby Finger notes at Jezebel:
The thing about this survey that makes it feel so utterly worthless is that it measures time, not productivity. Perhaps the reason women report spending fewer minutes of their day doing the work that pays them money is because they get it done more quickly than their male counterparts. Perhaps they squeeze more out of every minute because otherwise the sh*t that needs to get done at home — the sh*t they do for free — won’t get done on time, if at all.
Basically, women have a ton of stuff to get done every day — more than your average guy — so it's not at all unreasonable to imagine that we don't waste time at work, because we simply can't afford it. Which makes us better, more efficient workers, not less valuable ones.
But whatever the story is on productivity — and someone should actually do such a study at some point to find out — the fact remains that women don't work less than men. We just work less at the things men have decided are worthy of recognition and pay. Which is not at all the same thing.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (2)