Worldwide, women work an average of four years longer than men because of additional unpaid responsibilities, like housework and childcare, according to a new report. Four years.
Imagine what you could do with four years. You could travel the world, write a book, master a new skill or watch absolutely everything on Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with caring for others and we all have to do chores at some point, but women globally are doing more than their share and missing opportunities to do literally anything else.
The report was created by ActionAid, an organization fighting global poverty, and presented to the United Nations. Using World Bank data for 217 countries and an average life expectancy of 69 years, researchers analyzed the total amount of paid and unpaid work for men and women globally. They subtracted the total number of hours men work from women’s hours and found a huge gap — due to women doing additional unpaid work — that even pay equality can’t fix.
“The focus of the inequality debate generally has been on reducing income inequality,” said ActionAid in an announcement. “But this ignores the fact that inequality has a more severe impact on women.”
In the US, women spend four hours every day on unpaid work while men spend about half that time. This trend starts early; American girls spend two hours more per week on chores and are less likely to be paid for them. The gap in unpaid work widens in developing countries.
“Women have this burden of unpaid work that wraps around their entire day,” Lucia Fry, policy lead at ActionAid, told Broadly. “Crucially, it limits their opportunities to earn an income, so what we find is that women are often in precarious, vulnerable forms of labor they can fit around their responsibilities.”
Of course, even when women are paid for their work, they’re paid unfairly. Two new reports shed new light on the pay gap that make the situation seem even more dire.
While it’s common knowledge that women earn less than men, a new analysis shows this is the case even when men have less experience than women. The report states that men with two years of post-college work earn more than women with six years of experience.
“We know there’s a wage gap, we know that it grows over time,” said Antoinette Flores, a policy analyst and author of the report, “but the fact that 10 years later, women still haven’t caught up to where men are at 6 years is shocking.”
There are some people who like to blame this disparity on women themselves, saying that if women were just more assertive, they’d get the pay they deserved. Some even think if women just hold out for “good karma,” pay will work itself out.
Turns out, neither idea is very accurate or helpful. A new study by three universities showed that women were 25 percent less likely than men to get a raise when they asked for one, leading the researchers to conclude that it’s discrimination, not women’s lack of assertiveness, keeping them from acquiring raises.
Women around the world face a double burden, earning less money for their paid work and doing far more that’s unpaid in addition to other forms of inequality.
“We need progressive taxation, minimum wages, decent public services, equal pay legislation and early childcare and education,” explains Fry.