Time Is Money, Unless You’re Female

All that unpaid work women do keeps them from being able to earn — or spend


Melinda Gates has declared that her cause for the coming year is women’s “time poverty” worldwide and the way it holds them back.

Men spend more time working for money. Women do the bulk of the unpaid work — cooking, cleaning and child care.

This unpaid work is essential for households and societies to function. But it is also valued less than paid work, and when it is women’s responsibility, it prevents them from doing other things.

Other things like making money, starting businesses, investing, and also, you know, relaxing.

Worldwide, women spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on unpaid work, including grocery shopping, child care and laundry. That is more than double the amount of time men spend, according to O.E.C.D. data. Men spend significantly more time on paid work and also on leisure activities, which include playing sports, watching TV and hanging out with friends.

The biggest culprits? Husbands (and children).

the average married woman does seven more hours of housework per week than the average single woman.

The average married man only does one more hour of housework per week compared to his single counterparts. …

Researchers also found that having children increased the amount of housework done by women, but seemed to reduce the amount done by men.

Ugh, children are the worst. Husbands at least contribute something to the household, most of the time; what do children create except chaos? Let’s all agree not to give birth for a while and see what happens. When the politicians come crying to us that there aren’t any babies to kiss, or toddlers to use in ads to represent unsullied innocence, or school age kids who they can pretend need “protection” from people using the bathrooms in which they feel most comfortable whom they can use as an excuse to pass bigoted legislation, let alone future workers to contribute to their social security, then we can say, “Okay, fine, maybe we’ll start having children again — but what’ll you give us in exchange?”

Do not accept push presents, either, ladies. Hold out for the good stuff, like subsidized childcare and UPK.

The Cut points out that technology isn’t helping with the problem of women’s time poverty, so individuals need to be proactive in their own homes. Redistribute, y’all!

even in the U.S., where there’s an app for literally everything, women still do a majority of the unpaid labor. … If we could get those numbers to drop even a little bit by better redistributing chores, women’s participation in the workforce could go up by 10 percent, which is better for both families and the economy. Do your part by making your partner do the dishes tonight.

I shudder at that particular phrasing (“make your partner do the dishes”) because it implies that the dishes are yours to do in the first place and that you have to nag or force your partner to participate in a task that should be the shared responsibility of everyone tall enough to reach the sink. But the larger point is a valid one. If you feel like tasks in your home are not distributed fairly, talk about it with your partner: go through the chores that are both obvious and visible (laundry, garbage) and those that can get absorbed by one party and unseen by the other (making appointments for the family, ensuring there’s milk). Put it all out there and discuss it: what you do unthinkingly; what they do; what you could swap, or minimize, or maybe outsource.

If necessary, Facetime with Melinda Gates. I’m sure she’ll be happy to mediate disputes.

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