Would it surprise you to find out that women are currently working longer, sleeping less, and devoting more time to household chores than their male counterparts? While many believe that the workforce is male-dominated, the 21st century has seen a substantial rise in working women. Still, many women in the workforce are struggling with issues such as juggling childcare duties, performing household chores, and coping with strained work schedules in attempts to advance their careers. Now, a survey from the Board of Labor Statistics has shown that more working women are being forced to give up their self-care habits to work longer, care for their children, and deal with other unique personal responsibilities.

The rise of working women

In the 21st century, women have been shown to increasingly take on more responsibilities than their male counterparts. Not only are women often primarily in charge of their own childcare, yet they are also working longer hours than ever before. On top of work, women are expected to keep up with tasks such as cleaning up around the house, going grocery shopping, and performing other household chores. Of course, the rise of women in the corporate workforce has been beneficial in many ways. When the economy was thrown into turmoil in 2009, more women left behind their positions as full-time mothers or abandoned their retirements to rejoin the workforce. Within the year, they had nearly closed the gap between working women and men, only 1% away from making up the majority of the workforce. This incredible display of female resilience in the workplace opened the door for more women to climb the corporate ladder and become managers, CEOs, and self-made entrepreneurs. However, across the last ten years, a more substantial female presence in the workforce has also resulted in women having to make more sacrifices in their personal lives to juggle all of their responsibilities. This includes cutting back on their social lives and sacrificing one of the most important habits for any person’s wellbeing: getting a healthy amount of sleep.

Boiling down the data

In 2018, the American Time Use Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed an interesting trend between gender and the work, sleep, and childcare habits of women and men. The survey revealed that, while men have been working less since 2017 (from 8.04 hours to 7.87 hours), women were working more, putting in 7.3 hours into their jobs rather than 7.25 (2017). Additionally, women dedicated substantially more time to housework and chores then men did, putting in 49.8 minutes per day as opposed to the 14.4 minutes that men reportedly put in. Working women also spent close to two hours a day on childcare in 2018, a 15-minute leap from 2017. However, working men spent less than one-and-a-half hours a day with their little ones in 2018, dropping from 1.51 hours to 1.41 hours in 2017. When it came to sleeping, women ultimately tended to rest less than men in 2018, inversing the trend of sleep-patterns in each gender in 2017. In 2017, men slept for 8.70 hours, yet in 2018, their numbers lept upward, and they slept for 8.76 hours. Women, on the other hand, lost time for sleep during the year-long period between surveys, sleeping for 8.88 hours in 2018 instead of the 8.91 hours recorded in 2017. The results of this survey don’t just reveal that men are sleeping more/working less and women are sleeping less/working more; it also highlights what may be a dangerous sacrifice for ladies in the workforce.

What this means for women

This study illuminates one of the consequences of increased female presence in the workforce: less time for female self-care. Women who are working more, sleeping less, and taking on more household responsibilities are forced to skip out on essential habits contributing to their physical and emotional wellbeing in order to balance their daily responsibilities. This includes neglecting the amount of sleep that they need, ignoring their own needs when faced with those of the members of their households, and cutting down on positive social interaction with friends and family. Women are also facing added household responsibilities which men are statistically not picking up the slack for, such as childcare, cleaning, grocery shopping, and other chores. Unfortunately, women who want to advance their careers in a male-dominated workforce will likely have to continue to work longer and harder than their male counterparts and sacrifice certain self-care habits along the way. However, reformation within the workplace that partially removes the burden of extra responsibilities from female employees isn’t non-existent. Fortunately, many companies and corporations are becoming more mindful of the needs of parents and other individuals who are in relationships with dual-income, offering longer maternal and paternal leave, benefits for female employees, and even onsite office childcare and daycare options.