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Women should work shorter weeks to make up for domestic duties, study says

By Brigit Katz on February 6, 2017

It is a time-honored truth that working too hard, for too many hours, can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Most people face a laundry list of household chores (pun intended, sorry) when they get off work, making it even harder to carve out leisure time. This is especially true for women, who shoulder the majority of domestic duties.

Now, researchers at the Australian National University are recommending that women work shorter weeks than men to compensate for unpaid labor carried out at home, Broadly reports. Their findings, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, assert that because women lose disproportionate time to household duties, they should work only 34 hours per week. The healthy work limit for men, the study says, is 47 hours per week.

Many Australian women actually work closer to 40 hours per week, according to the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The lead author of the Australian National University study, Dr. Huong Dinh, writes that women cannot maintain such hours, while also taking on the majority of domestic obligations, “unless they compromise their health.”

For many women, working long hours is simply impossible, placing them at a disadvantage in the workplace. Australian men, Broadly explains, work more on average than their female counterparts — 41 versus 36 hours per week. Women can’t work as much because they take on more responsibilities at home, which may cause them to lag behind male co-workers when it comes to professional advancement.

Professor Lyndall Strazdins, one of the study’s co-authors, told Broadly that the solution to this problem may be to “bring men’s long hours down” so that women are not penalized for working standard hours.

Or perhaps men can chip in with the ironing a bit more frequently? Just saying.

Read the full story at Broadly.



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