By Margarita Nahapetyan
A new Dutch study has found that many men these days are pressured to work up to 40 hours - often unpaid - per week in order to stay competitive in today's environment. The latest research has revealed that women face the same pressures as men but may work fewer hours due to household chores, which puts them to an increased risk of losing their jobs.
Obviously, there are different ways of work organizing in many European countries, but the Danish study could also be applicable to the United States, where longer working hours are gradually becoming the norm as well, the investigators said. According to the findings published in the April issue of the journal Gender and Society, increased competition in the workplace in combination with modern business practices are resulting in a significantly high levels of overtime. And what is interesting, in most cases, working longer hours does not even lead to greater productivity.
"This clearly does not ease the situation for women and men who want to combine career and family life" said a principal researcher of the study, Patricia van Echtelt, who is a scientist at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. "What is more, a growing body of literature shows that working long hours does not automatically lead to greater productivity and effectiveness, and thus not necessarily contributes to employers' needs but potentially harms the well-being of employees," she added.
The experts based their findings on a survey of the working habits of more than 1,000 male and female employees. Overtime was defined as the hours that exceeded a worker's hours stated in contract. The researchers found that 69 per cent of men worked overtime compared with 42 per cent of women. They also revealed that women who worked extra hours, spent, on average, approximately 5 more hours at workplace, when compared with men's seven additional hours.
Van Echtelt and her fellow colleagues said that the gender gap is partly due to the continuing trend for women to be more involved in unpaid family work. And even when couples share family work, men often refer to their contribution as 'helping' their wives, without feeling that they carry the main responsibility, the authors wrote in the journal. And still, men are getting more involved these days with family and kids. According to a 2007 Pew Research Centers Social Trends Survey, the majority of the surveyed women said that their husbands are doing a great jobs as fathers.
Cornell University's Youngjoo Cha, who carried out another U.S. data-based research, discovered that if a husband works more than 60 hours per week, his wife is 42 per cent more likely to leave her job. According to another data from the Current Population Survey, nearly 9 per cent of the workers in the United States reported working more than 50 hours a week in 1983, more than 12 per cent stated the same in 2002. Among all workers surveyed in 2002, more than 17 per cent of men said that they worked additional hours, when compared with nearly 7 per cent of their female counterparts. Current Population Survey is a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.