New study blasts theory that women do more work

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - He may leave his socks lying around and avoid emptying the dishwasher, but a new study shows husbands do as much work as their wives.

City workers make phone calls outside the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square in the City of London at lunchtime October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville

London School of Economics sociologist Catherine Hakim’s research shows that when both paid work and unpaid duties such as housework, care and voluntary work are taken into account, men do pull their own weight.

“It’s true that women do more work in the home, but overall men and women are doing the same, which is roughly eight hours per day,” Hakim told Reuters.

In fact, the study of how people use their time found that men in Britain spend slightly longer on “productive” work each day than women.

“Feminists are wrong to claim that men should do a larger share of the housework and childcare because on average, men and women already do the same number of hours of productive work,” Hakim said.

She said the data overturns the long-standing theory that women work a “double shift,” juggling a job with household chores, and working longer hours than their husbands.

The study, “(How) can social policy and fiscal policy recognize unpaid family work?,” used data from Europe-wide Time Use Surveys.

“Results were similar across Europe, except in the ex-socialist European countries, where there is less of a tradition of men chipping in,” Hakim said.

In Scandinavian countries, men were found to work more hours than women.

Hakim hopes to draw attention to the bias of government policy across Europe, which tends only to see paid jobs as real work and said there is evidence that men are beginning to demand the same options and choices as women, with more claims of sex discrimination from men.

“One-sided policies that support employment and careers but ignore the productive work done in the family are, in effect, endorsing market place values over family values,” she said.

“Policy-makers need to be aiming for gender-neutral policies.”

Editing by Paul Casciato