Toronto Star

Mar. 13, 12:39 EDT

Young women left with all the chores: Study

Valerie Lawton
The Toronto Star

OTTAWA - Canada's youngest women appear to be doing more than their share of work at home, a new government study suggests.

The report released yesterday showed women in their late teens and early 20s work almost an hour a day more than men the same age.

It's a surprising finding given that middle-aged women have almost closed the work gap - putting in virtually the same number of hours as men.

``We haven't really come such a long way, baby, like the ad says,'' Hedy Fry, secretary of state for the status of women, said yesterday.

``We still have some way to go.''

The Statistics Canada study, prepared for Fry's department, looked at indicators of women's equality in work, income and learning. Among the other findings:

``We seem to have moved forward, but the thing that's plaguing us is that some women are still not able to close that gap as well as others,'' said Fry.

In terms of work hours, the report showed women worked an average of 15 minutes more per day than men in 1998, the most recent figures available. That's two weeks more per year.

About a decade earlier, women were working almost five weeks more than men annually once all of their extra hours of work were added up.

However, the imbalance between the sexes remains large for women aged 15 to 24 years, who work an average of 51 minutes more per day than men - or almost eight weeks more of work per year.

``We found that what happens is that young women are doing more work at home, more housework, etc.,'' said Fry.

`The guys are . . . playing hockey . . they're out there going out with their buddies and leaving the woman at home to do all the work.'
- Hedy Fry

``And we figure that the guys are out. They're playing hockey . . . they're out there going out with their buddies and leaving the woman at home to do all the work.''

The researchers came to that conclusion based on other studies showing men in their late teens and early 20s are far more involved than women in sports activities, leading to a large discrepancy in total workload.

Women and men aged 45 and 54 do almost the same amount of work, according to the study, which looked at both paid work and unpaid work such as housekeeping and caring for children or elderly people.

Meanwhile, the disparity between men and women performing unpaid work is declining.

Women worked just over five unpaid hours a day in 1998 - almost unchanged from a decade earlier. Men are now putting in 3.4 hours of unpaid hours, up from 2.7 hours.

Fry said one of the key reasons the income gap between men and women has been getting smaller is that women are simply spending more time at paying jobs.

``It's narrowing because we're finding that women are working longer hours to be able to make more money. It's not that they're getting better-paid jobs but they're working longer hours,'' she said.

Another finding of the study is that fathers in families in which both parents work full time have increased the time they spend caring for their children - from 74 minutes a day in 1992, to 85 minutes in 1998. Women in these families are now spending 134 minutes with the kids daily, down from 147 minutes.

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