Women’s careers take backseat to men’s


Women might be on a more even footing at work but at home their careers tend to take a backseat to their husband’s job with women most likely to quit when both are working long hours, according to a US study.

Researcher Youngjoo Cha, from Cornell University, found that working women with a husband who worked 50 hours or more a week found themselves still doing most of the housework and the care giving and were more likely to end up quitting their job.

An analysis of 8484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessionals from dual-earner families showed that if women had a husband who worked 60 hours or more per week it increased the woman’s odds of quitting her paid job by 42 per cent.

Cha said the odds of quitting increased to 51 per cent for professional women whose husbands work 60 hours or more per week, and for professional mothers the odds they would quit their jobs jumped 112 per cent.

However, it did not significantly affect a man’s odds of quitting his job if his wife worked 60 hours or more per week, according to the study published in the American Sociological Review in April.

For professional men, both parents and non-parents, the effects of a wife working long hours were negligible, according to the study called Reinforcing Separate Spheres: The Effect of Spousal Overwork on Men’s and Women’s Employment in Dual-Earner Households.

“As long work-hours introduce conflict between work and family into many dual-earner families, couples often resolve conflict in ways that prioritise husbands’ careers,” Cha, who used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a statement.

“This effect is magnified among workers in professional and managerial occupations, where the norm of overwork and the culture of intensive parenting tend to be strongest. The findings suggest that the prevalence of overwork may lead many dual-earner couples to return to a separate spheres arrangement – breadwinning men and homemaking women.”


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