Several studies show that women are much more likely to be employed part-time, less than 35 hours per week. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) On the surface, this seems to prove that women don’t have as many working hours as men. However, upon further investigation, it seems that this statistic does not account for women with more than one part time job. It also does not factor in the time dedicated to managing the family. In fact, the Global Poverty Project (GPP) shows that women’s working hours are a lot more than what most research reveals. According to their website, “Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income”.

The way women’s work is undervalued goes deeper than just the gap in salary. Historically, the pool of available jobs has been significantly smaller for women than for men. That means that there are usually more women applying for a limited amount of positions. Once in a position, women are also limited in promotion opportunities as compared with their male counterparts. Here it is 2013 and the United States has never had a female president or vice president.

When a woman asks for a raise, promotion, or well-earned amenities, she is often just seen as “nagging”. The same is not true for men. Generally, when a male employee voices his concerns, he is seen as a leader and often gets rewarded rather than marginalized.  One other major issue with working hours is that women get labeled as weak when they make family a priority.

This is a recurring theme that has the potential to change now that more women are creating viable entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), although well over two thirds of self-employed people are men, women account for more than half (184,000, or 60%) of the net rise in self-employment since the start of the recession.

The best way to deconstruct some of the notions around women’s working hours is to educate young girls and encourage entrepreneurship at a young age. According to another GPP research paper, educating girls improves women’s participation in the work force: “Increasing women’s labor force participation rates and earnings: educated girls have better access to jobs”.

By looking within rather than always focusing on the external source of harm, women can begin to combat some of the negative stereotypes and inequity caused by sexism. To paraphrase Antonio Gransci, coercion by the oppressor requires consent by the oppressed. What this simply means is that women have the personal agency to create change.

An increased level of self determination is absolutely critical to changing the status quo.

Sources:

Rise in self-employed ‘odd jobbers’ keeping the lid on unemployment. January 2012 http://www.cipd.co.uk/pressoffice/press-releases/rise-self-employed.aspx

Sarah Johnson, et al Mothers’ and Fathers’ Work Hours, Child Gender, and Behavior in Middle Childhood http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.01030.x/abstract

Global Poverty Project http://www.globalpovertyproject.com/infobank/women