Over the last 50 years women have cut down the time they spend on domestic tasks by 90 minutes a day.
This is based on research in 14 developed nations carried out by sociologists at Oxford University. There has been a steady downward trend in the amount of time women spend cleaning, cooking and laundering since the 1960s.
Part of this can be attributed to technological advances and also the fact that we can now buy clothes relatively cheaply and need to do less sewing or knitting for example.
At the same time men have spent more time on these unpaid tasks over a week with the time increasing from 1 hr 35 minutes a day to 2 hrs and 18 minutes.
Men and women typically spend 8 hrs and 20 mins working each day, just over 58 hours a week, but women still spend a higher proportion of time on unpaid domestic chores. They still work for 4 hrs and 20 mins a day without pay and do 66% of then unpaid work in the UK.
This puts women at a disadvantage in the job market as the more time a women spends on unpaid work the less time she can put into her job and networking.
A spokesperson at the Fawcett Society charity (currently embroiled in a debate about the £45 feminist t-shirts made by cheap labour i.e. 62p an hour) said “Women still take on a range of responsibilities from care for the elderly to childcare and it is one of the big hindrances standing in the way of economic equality”
The pay gap between the sexes is small when they are in their twenties, and in some jobs women are paid more, but the pay gap jumps to over 20% in favour of men when they reach their 40s.
This research doesn’t tell the whole story. In egalitarian Sweden women do the smallest proportion of unpaid work, 58%, but so many of them work full-time that they still end up putting in more hours than men. And in Spain, where women are putting in 74% of unpaid work, because they tend not to wok full-time they put in fewer hours overall than the men.