Women Spend More Time Working Than Men Do, New (But Not Shocking) Study Finds
We might be on the cusp of having the first woman in the White House, but there's no denying there is still a lot of progress left to be made when it comes to women in the workforce. Most women are already painfully aware that their gender puts them at a disadvantage career-wise — the fact that we make less money on average than men for the same work is a well-established fact. And now, a report by the World Economic Forum has found that women spend more time working then men do, particularly when unpaid work is factored into the equation, according to People. Of course, this finding is hugely significant, and representative of the reality that the gender gap is still a big problem. But while the report's conclusions might be news to some, it's likely pretty safe to assume that, well, women have been well aware of this study's findings for a long time now.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the global gender divide has improved in certain areas, like health outcomes between men and women, and education attainment. But there is still a big gap between genders when it comes to economic participation and political involvement. Even more significant though is the fact that the 2016 report found that the disparity between economic involvement is actually larger now than it has been since 2008, and — get this — that it will take an estimated 170 years to reach gender parity at the current rates, according to CBS News.
Although the gender gap looks different depending on where you are in the world, in the United States, we know that, on average, more men are employed than women — 88 percent of men ages 25 to 54 versus 73 percent of women, according to The Huffington Post. And women also take a huge career hit if they become mothers: during women's peak income earning years (between age 35 to 44), only 74 percent of women are actually working, versus 90 percent of men in the same age group.
What's more is that, unpaid work (such as caring for children) falls disproportionately on the shoulders of women compared to men. According to TIME, "women work nearly an hour longer every single day than men do when unpaid labor such as caregiving is included," which means that women, on average, work more than one month more than men do, while earning less money. According to The Institute for Women's Policy Research, "female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men" in 2015, although, as The New Republic noted, women of color earn even less. And, according to Vox, men's salaries are also more likely to rise more significantly throughout their careers than women's salaries are, even in the same line of work.
One major reason? As Vox noted, "the highest-paying jobs disproportionately reward those who can work the longest, least flexible hours," and, thanks to the aforementioned unpaid caregiving work that is still largely considered the unofficial domain of women, the people who are most often able to take on those more-demanding, less-flexible, high-paying jobs are, of course, men.
In this year's report, the United States ranked 45th out of 144 countries for its gender disparity — a pretty substantial drop from last year's position at 28th place, according to CBS News. The countries rounding out the top 10 include the usual Scandinavian countries — Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden comprise the top four — while Rwanda, Philippines, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Nicaragua make up the remainder.
But even though women in Iceland face the smallest gender gap in the world, they still aren't forgetting that any gap is unfair. According to The New York Times, thousands of women in the capital city of Reykjavik left work at exactly 2:38 p.m. to protest the fact that, thanks to the country's 14-18 percent average wage gap, women in Iceland are basically working for free by sticking around the office beyond that time. But as jarringly unfair as that seems, similar protests in other countries would have been even worse: as The Atlantic noted, women in the United States would have left work at 2:12 p.m., while women in South Korea and Pakistan would have had to walk out at 12:36 p.m. and 10:50 a.m. respectively to demonstrate the disparity.
Lack of female representation in politics is also a big issue worldwide. According to the UN, although there are nearly double the number of women in parliament now compared to 20 years ago, women still only make up 22.8 percent of parliamentary politicians worldwide. And only 17 percent of government ministers as of January 2015 were women, most of which held positions overseeing "social sectors, such as education and the family."
The findings of the World Economic Forum might not be entirely surprising, but they are still pretty disheartening. As hard as women around the world have worked (and are continuing to work) for gender equality and progress, it's clear that we are still losing out big time when it comes to earning what we are worth, advancing in our careers, and experiencing a more equitable share of familial responsibility. And, if the current statistics are any indication, that's not likely to change any time soon.