Five-day Week Increases Women''s Household Labor
Five-day Week Increases Women''s Household Labor
  • reported by Dong Sung-hye dong@womennews.co.kr
  • 승인 2003.02.06 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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To working wives, the newly introduced five-workday week represents more than just precious time to enhance their quality of life. Ambushed in the five-day week is more household labor, meaning that without addressing this issue, there will only be more 'work' for women, just in a different place.

According to the

The daily average time spent on household chores is two hours 50 minutes for working women, and five hours 13 minutes for fulltime housewives. In contrast, working men spend 26 minutes a day on household chores and those with no jobs spend 53 minutes. So working women spend about two hours more each day than their male counterparts doing household chores. This shows that even women who are economically active are not spared much from household labor whereas men are not actively involved in homemaking regardless of whether they have jobs or not.

As the total time spent working (household labor + "real" work) for working wives is significantly longer than for men, national policies are needed to reduce homemaking time for women. Furthermore, since homemaking time does not decrease in proportion to more time spent on the job, the total work time is even longer for women with long working hour jobs. For example, a woman who has to be at her job 54 hours a week spends 2 hours 24 minutes everyday doing household chores, meaning that her total work time is about 11 hours. The amount of time a man with the same working hours spends on household chores is a mere 24 minutes a day.

A thesis by Lee Ki Young entitled

On the other hand, the total work time for Korean men is not very high, despite the fact that they have relatively long working hours compared to their counterparts in other countries. This is because of the little amount of time they spend on household chores. The total work time for Korean, American and Finnish men are similar, recording 456, 452 and 453 minutes respectively. Japanese men spend less time working compared to other male groups in the study. 

All in all, women, regardless of employment status, face discrimination in terms of the time allowed for self-realization, thanks to the burden of household chores.

According to the <1999 Report on Time Usage> published by the National Statistical Office, the time spent on social and leisure activities is only 17 minutes longer for men than women on weekdays, but the difference increases through the week to a 35-minute gap on Saturdays and a one-hour-23-minute gap on Sundays.

This means that on Sundays, when there should generally be more leisure time, the time women have to spend looking after the home and family decreases only slightly, or even increases in some cases. In contrast, the time men spend working drops significantly in the weekend, to be replaced by socializing and leisure, showing a distinct gender gap.〈refer to Table 3〉

Comments Researcher Moon, "With the growing importance of the knowledge industry, policies aimed at developing human resources to enhance national competitiveness are a must. But the gender gap in time spent on human resource development affects not only today's generation but future generations as well." Moon points out that since the total work time (household labor + market labor) is about an hour longer for working wives than working men, working wives have relatively more difficulty investing time in human resource development.

Adds Moon, "The gender gap existing in the time spent on socializing and leisure, which widens towards the weekend, is expected to widen even more with the introduction of the five-day week. The five-day week could well be the start of more household labor time for working wives."

For working women to be able to devote their spare time on studying and training to increase their value as human resources, there is a need for more than plans to share their burden of household labor; we need to nurture a climate that encourages human resources development for women.

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