This week's weekend reading is going to be a short one- Petunia got a runny nose this week (but no fever!) and now Hubby and I are both sick. Petunia seems to be on the mend already, so we're hoping this is a short cold. Still, the sofa is calling me...
But I came across two posts about time use this week, which I want to share. I don't really agree with either of them, and they seemed to contradict each other. So, of course, I have to write about them.
First, the study referenced in this post (the actual article is behind a paywall, and I'm not curious enough to pay) says that men and women are now spending almost the same amount of time on paid work and unpaid work (i.e., chores), but that men spend more of it on paid work and women spend more of it on chores.
I don't agree that this is anything to celebrate- it is impossible to tease apart cause and effect. Are women working less paid hours and perhaps hobbling their careers because they feel they need to put in more time at home? Or, are women just choosing to do more at home and therefore find that they can't put in as many paid hours?
I also wanted to know if the study had tried to match men and women based on type of job. The study I'd seen of academic scientists indicated that men and women put in approximately the same number of hours at work- but that the men still put in far less time at home. (See this old post of mine for my take on this and a link to the study- which was small.)
The study referenced in this rather depressing post finds the same thing- male and female scientists are working about the same number of hours. The study finds that they work long hours- close to 55 hours per week.
The problem I have is that this study is based on just asking people how many hours they work. That method has been shown to be less accurate than having people track their time- and that won't surprise anyone who's actually done a timetracking exercise (here are the results of my most recent one). I'd love to see a survey of academics and/or scientists that uses the more rigorous timetracking method. I think we'd find that they are working long hours- but not 55 hours/week. My guess is that it would come in closer 45-50 hours/week- still high, but I can tell you that 45 hours/week is very manageable, because that is roughly what I'm logging in my new job. (Remember, in these surveys, sitting in your office does NOT equal working- you track what you're actual doing, not where you are.)
My second problem with that post has nothing to do with the study, or really even the post. It was the comments. I actually felt that I had to add a comment to be a counter to all of the comments saying that it was impossible to work in science and be a mother. As I think I've shown, that's just not true. I've got absolutely no problem with a mother who decides that working is not for her. I agree that the way we've structured our workplaces and our paucity of family leave time adds unnecessary challenges to the lives of working parents. But it isn't as dire as some of those comments imply, and I was a bit shocked by the way the husbands of many of the commenters seemed to be let completely off the hook- if there was a conflict between work and home, it was the woman's problem to solve. Yikes. For instance, one comment bemoans the fact that if she worked her child would have to be in day care 9 hours a day. First of all, that is OK. But second of all, that is not the only way it could turn out. My husband and I slightly stagger our schedules, so our kids end up in day care for about 7 hours each day. I know that this isn't possible for everyone, but a lot of the people at our day care do something similar, so I know that we aren't utter freaks in this regard.
It also occurs to me that maybe one of the reasons I am not bothered by having my kids in day care all day is that "all day" isn't really all day- they don't go to bed until about 8:30 (Petunia) and 9:15 (Pumpkin), so we get quite a bit of time with them after work. And they wake up between 6:30 and 7, so we actually get a fair amount of time with them in the mornings, too. I guess that's a plus side to living in the low sleep needs universe....