Women at work weighed down by social norms

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Working women suffer from the burden of traditional gendered expectations—and it’s destroying their health.

A recent study by the Australian National University found that when combining time spent at work, performing household domestic labour, and caregiving, women are exceeding their “work hour-health limits.”

On average, women spend more time doing work around the house and looking after their children than their male counterparts. When this is combined with hours spent in the office, women work far longer than is recommended for their health.

The study’s findings address crucial factors to the equal pay debate. The “double burden” placed on women—the balancing act between work in the office and at home—has serious repercussions for their careers, which negatively impacts their energy levels and wellness. 

Women are currently expected to juggle work that should be split equally between partners. That’s not realistic or fair. 

Men can devote the majority of their time and energy to advancing their professional accomplishments thanks to social norms, while women are typically left to maintain their homes, look after their children, and fit their careers somewhere in between.

As we move toward equity in the workplace, we must consider the implications of the 40-hour work week. 

The ingrained expectation that a professional woman should still be the homemaker and primary caretaker for her children places a burden on only one half of male-female partnerships. When both mothers and fathers are expected to adhere to eight-hour work days five days a week, it comes at a disproportionately greater cost to the women.

This social practice impacts men as well. It’s still ingrained in our society that men are thought to be the hard-working, distant breadwinners for their families. Most men don’t take full advantage of their paternity leave, and statistics show men’s careers are significantly less impacted by their children than their female counterparts. The culture in work environments must change, and it should be equally as acceptable for men to take time off work to take care of their children. 

Employers can facilitate equal opportunities for male and female employees by offering child care services that alleviate some of the burden and expense from working parents. Corporate child care can help relieve some of the work that traditionally falls on its female staff.

The only way to effectively tackle this problem is to address its source. 

Women are entitled to equal opportunities to pursue their careers. We need to dispel the rhetoric that women have an obligation to housekeep and care for children over their professional careers. 

Men and women are equally capable of performing these tasks; the workload can and should easily be split between two partners. 

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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