Globe and Mail

Women outwork men by two weeks every year

StatsCan calculates females get paid less for toiling 15 minutes more daily

With a report from Heather Scoffield
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, March 13, 2001

OTTAWA -- Number-crunchers have borne out what's long been lamented: Factor in the chores and the child care and women outtoil men by more than two full work weeks a year.

Based on Statistics Canada's "total workload index" involving paid and unpaid labour, a woman, on average, will work 80 hours more annually than will a man, even though he'll be financially compensated for most of his work while she will not.

It's something that women such as Joanna Hemm seem to know from experience.

Shown the data while browsing for books at an Ottawa library yesterday, the 34-year-old banquet server said women deserve to be compensated for their extra work.

"Men do have their jobs," Ms. Hemm said. "When they come home they feel the need to unwind. They don't regard housework or cooking or cleaning as something that needs to be stuck to.

"It's a different mentality," she said. " . . . I know a lot of young mothers, both married and single," she continued, "and I find often their common complaint is they don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that they need to."

The Statscan study, based on 1998 time-use surveys, shows that men get the lion's share of paid work, and women's labour mostly goes uncompensated. In terms of pay, on average, women still take home only 63 per cent of a man's after-tax income.

The study shows that men and women aged 15 and over both put in nearly the same amount of paid and unpaid labour, more than 50 hours weekly.

For a man, this works out to 7.5 hours daily, most of it -- 4.1 hours -- paid. Conversely, a woman will work 7.8 hours daily -- only 2.5 hours paid.

Unpaid work, according to Statscan, is work that could have been done by someone hired -- such as babysitting, cooking, housekeeping or volunteering.

Similar surveys conducted in 1992 and 1986 found women doing even more of the unpaid work and less of the paid work. The salary gap is less as well.

This time around, women aged 35 to 44 worked harder than any age category yet studied by the total workload index -- 9.5 hours daily. Conversely, the men who might be their sons and fathers -- those aged 15-24 and over 65 -- are the laziest, toiling only half as much daily.

The findings were presented by Hedy Fry, Secretary of State for the federal Status of Women office. She said the indicators show things are getting better -- slowly.

Indicators also show that women are slowly getting into male-dominated fields of study, while men continue to stay away from study in female-dominated fields.

The numbers caused some ripples on Parliament Hill when Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte was asked whether female MPs work harder than their male colleagues.

"I think all women, we work hard at our jobs, we take care of our family, and I think you could ask any of your colleagues here -- we all think we work harder," she said.

As for Ms. Hemm, she proposes that women be compensated for their unpaid labour. But she acknowledged gender roles in her own household are behind the times and gently bemoaned her husband's housekeeping skills.

"This is going to sound brutal, but bathroom areas and kitchen areas really need to be maintained on a regular basis," she said.

Division of labour

        Unpaid    Paid   Total

Men       3.4      4.1    7.5

Women     5.2      2.5    7.7

Source: Statistics Canada

Copyright 2001 Globe Interactive, a division of Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.