Women at Work: A High Wire Balancing Act

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts,” actress Sophia Loren said. “A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Every day, working mothers perform a multitude of jobs, the total somehow far more than the sum of just their professional and home lives. To keep their families, finances, sanity and more on an even keel, women with families must keep numerous balls in the air at all times. That doing so is far from easy is no secret; anyone with children will say as much. Yet according to the recently released results of the 2018 American Times Use Survey (ATUS), when it comes to the hours spent on ‘family’-related work, there remains a significant gap between the sexes.

Below, we discuss five ways the report shows women are still on that high wire balancing act of having a family and earning an income. 

Women do almost twice as much daily childcare as men

From 2014 to 2018, women spent an average of 95 percent more each day caring, “as a primary activity,” for “household children” under the age of 18, according to data gathered in the 2018 ATUS. As is evident from the table below, the gap narrows on weekends and holidays, but across the board, women continue to provide more daily childcare than men.

Childcare activitiesAverage hours per day adults spent caring for household children
TotalWeekdaysWeekends and holidays
TotalMenWomenTotalMenWomenTotalMenWomen
Children under age 18, total 
Caring for household children as a primary activity1.390.911.781.450.881.921.240.961.46
Physical care0.440.230.610.460.230.640.400.230.53
Education-related activities0.100.060.140.130.070.180.040.030.05
Reading to/with children0.040.030.050.040.030.050.030.030.04
Talking to/with children0.050.030.070.060.040.080.030.020.04
Playing/doing hobbies with children0.290.260.320.250.220.290.370.350.38
Looking after children0.090.060.120.080.050.110.110.090.14
Attending children’s events0.060.050.070.050.040.060.090.090.10
Travel related to care of household children0.190.120.240.230.140.300.090.080.10
Other childcare activities0.120.070.170.150.080.210.060.050.07
 
Youngest child ages 6 to 17 
Caring for household children as a primary activity0.830.551.060.900.561.190.640.530.74
Physical care0.150.080.210.170.090.240.110.070.14
Education-related activities0.120.070.160.150.080.200.050.040.06
Reading to/with children0.020.010.020.020.010.020.010.010.02
Talking to/with children0.060.040.080.070.050.090.040.020.06
Playing/doing hobbies with children0.070.070.060.050.060.050.100.120.08
Looking after children0.050.040.060.050.030.060.060.040.07
Attending children’s events0.080.070.100.060.050.080.130.110.14
Travel related to care of household children0.170.110.220.200.130.260.090.070.11
Other childcare activities0.100.060.140.120.060.170.060.050.06
 
Child under age 6 
Caring for household children as a primary activity2.121.382.712.181.322.871.981.542.34
Physical care0.810.431.120.830.421.160.760.461.00
Education-related activities0.080.040.120.110.050.150.030.020.04
Reading to/with children0.070.050.080.070.050.090.060.050.07
Talking to/with children0.040.020.050.040.030.060.030.020.03
Playing/doing hobbies with children0.580.500.640.520.440.590.710.650.76
Looking after children0.140.090.190.120.070.170.190.150.22
Attending children’s events0.040.030.040.040.030.050.040.050.04
Travel related to care of household children0.210.130.270.260.150.350.100.090.10
Other childcare activities0.150.080.200.180.100.250.070.050.08
NOTE: Includes persons 18 years and over living in households with children under 18, whether or not they provided childcare.

Source: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.t09.htm 

Since 2017, the time spent by each sex caring for children under age 6 is unchanged, but women still do 153 percent more.

In both 2018 and 2017, on an average day among households with children under the age of 6, “women spent 1.1 hours providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 26 minutes providing physical care.” If that doesn’t seem like much, look at it this way. In the course of just a week, women spend an average of almost five hours more than men doing these sorts of duties.

More women (a lot more) do housework. 

Things are looking up when it comes to equality in the household-chores department, but women continue to do more than their fair share. From 2017 to 2018, there was a 1-percent increase (from 19 percent to 20 percent) in men performing household tasks such as laundry or dishwashing, but the percentage of women doing such duties remained at nearly half: 49 percent. We’re hoping the percentage increase picks up its pace a little; otherwise, we’re looking at a date in 2048 to achieve parity between the sexes on this score.

There are still more women than men in the kitchen. 

Men may be cooking, but 23 percent more women than men are still the ones doing food preparation and serving, as well as after-meal cleanup. According to the survey summary,  forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women.

Fewer women spend time on “leisure.”

While the percentage of men and women who take time for “leisure and sports” is close to equal, fewer women — 94.9 percent vs. 96.2 percent for men — engage in these activities (see chart, below). What’s more, according to the 2018 ATUS summary, “Men were more likely than women to participate in sports, exercise, or recreation on any given day — 21 percent, compared with 17 percent. On days that they participated, men also spent more time doing these activities than did women — 1.7 hours, compared with 1.3 hours.” That’s not great news for mothers, who tend to put the needs of their family members ahead of self-care. But if self-love won’t woo hardworking moms, perhaps this news will. Exercise and other self-care can actually make you a better mom.

But…the future is flexible.

The data from the latest ATUS may not seem encouraging when it comes to working moms getting the help they both need and deserve, at home and at work, but there’s more to the picture.

Today more women are both working for themselves and working remotely. The flexibility of work that doesn’t require you to be at the same cubicle, day in and day out, is enormous and the benefits far-reaching. More often than not, after having children women are expected to return to work as though nothing has happened — to keep the same hours, maintain the same level of dedication and concentration.

In the steadily dying corporate model, the one that mandates the clunky, expensive office lease with khaki-pant-clad worker bees all at their cubicle desks from 9 to 5 every day, having a family has had to be a woman’s dirty little secret. Luckily, with the remote-work revolution, that notion is fading. We know the future is remote, self-driven work that lets you choose where you work.

If you have the opportunity to be flexible with your office location with a remote or self-employed opportunity, Metro Offices is here to help.  Browse our multiple convenient locations today and get the best of work and family!

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