British Researcher: Men and Women Do Same Amount of ‘Productive’ Work

Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics has long been a voice of reason in the area of men’s and women’s work. And she continues to be. As this article says, she’s recently analyzed the paid and unpaid household work of European men and women and come to the conclusion that men and women spend about the same amount of time at “productive” work (Reuters, 8/5/10). That should come as no surprise to readers of For years now, this site has pointed out the simple and obvious facts derived from data that are regularly compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS American Time Use Survey shows that, when paid work, childcare and household chores done by men are compared to the same work done by women, the two sexes spend statistically identical amounts of time at same each day. Now Hakim has drawn the same conclusion using European time-use data.
None of this should be cause for excitement. The fact that women on average do a little less work than men at the office/plant/shop and a little more around the house surely matches the everday experience of countless people. In other words, most people probably aren’t surprised by either Hakim’s findings or those of the BLS. The only reason Hakim’s study has gotten any attention at all (and it’s gotten a fair amount) is that the MSM and various feminist organizations routinely tout the longer hours that women work at home to attempt to portray men as laggards. Therefore, articles are written proclaiming some version of “even women who work full time still do twice the childcare that men do.” And as far as that goes, it’s correct. But what statements like that omit is that women who work full time still work fewer hours than do men who work full time. And the fact that they do twice the child care still barely makes up for the men’s greater share of the paid work. And when other pertinent figures are taken into consideration, the time spent by men and women come out the same. Those other figures are things like the fact that fewer women than men work at all and of those who do, men are far more likely to work full time than are women. As this study shows, in the United States, men work 56% of the total 255 billion hours worked at paid employment, while women log the remaining 44% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8/2010). All that seems to be uncomfortable for those in the MSM and feminist organizations who seem hell-bent on promoting the notion that women are long-suffering victims and men are lazy louts. Facts are stubborn things and facts as easily found as those in the BLS American Time Use Survey are particularly so. Hakim agrees.

“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.

If enough people like Catherine Hakim keep chipping away at it, the entire shaky edifice of feminist-inspired rhetoric about men will come tumbling down. It can’t come a minute too soon. Thanks to John for the heads-up.

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