Why Women’s Working Weeks Are Actually Getting Longer

Photo: Lauren Maccabee
The average woman's working week has increased by more than hour in the last decade, according to a new report.
The report by the Resolution Foundation blames the financial crisis of 2007-8 for an increase in working hours which has affected women and young people more than men.
While men's working weeks have increased by 40 minutes in the past decades, women's have increased by 65 minutes. Young people aged between 18 and 24 have also been hit especially hard and are now working 60 minutes more each week than a decade ago.
George Bangham, a Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said this increase reverses the pattern of previous decades, where working weeks became shorter as more women joined the workforce and people sought a better work-life balance.
"In recent decades rising female employment and the linked growth in male part-time work have meant that households are sharing paid work more evenly, further driving down the average working week for individuals," he explained. "But falls in the average working week have stalled since the crisis, and working time has been rising for women."
The Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank focused on improving living standards for people on low to middle incomes, says that a 12-year "stagnation" in real pay has meant that women especially "have looked for more hours of work to protect their family incomes".
Bangham told Refinery29 that he'd expect women's working weeks to start getting shorter again if and when their real pay begins to increase.
"Within households, we might get back to the trend of couples sharing paid work more equally rather than one person working many more hours," he said. "The question then is: will we 'level up' with more people working full-time, or continue to 'level-down' so that more workers keep making to move to part-time?"
In the meantime, you might like to check out our recent story on a clever way to make the most of your annual leave in 2020.