How longer work hours are widening gender inequality

Are the demands of long, inflexible hours at work fueling the gender gap? It’s an issue New York Times correspondent Claire Cain Miller explores in the story, “Women Did Everything Right. Then Work Got ‘Greedy’.” Part of the problem is how many employers now demand round-the-clock availability.

“‘Greedy’ work is a new way of thinking about a very familiar problem which is, how do we have all of these women going to law school, all these women going to business school – it’s practically 50-50 in those arenas. And then you look a few years later, you see very few female CEOs, very few women controlling capital, really being the decision makers. What’s happening? Is it bias? Is it sexism?” said CBS News contributor and New York Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor.

Miller writes: “This is not about educated women opting out of work (they are the least likely to stop working after having children, even if they move to less demanding jobs). It’s about how the nature of work has changed in ways that push couples who have equal career potential to take on unequal roles.”

Kantor said if you want to be a “super achiever” in the workplace, “you have to devote yourself entirely to the workplace.”

“Because people are marrying essentially their twins – one person with an MBA marries somebody else with an MBA – it’s like it only makes sense for one of those two people to become – try to become the super achiever, and it usually ends up being a man,” Kantor said, while the other spouse takes on more of the parenting responsibilities.

“Essentially they’re the hidden ingredient that lets their husbands work all these crazy hours,” Kantor said.

According to a Harvard economist quoted in the article, “Women don’t step back from work because they have rich husbands… They have rich husbands because they step back from work.”

While there are proposed solutions to help solve the issue, Kantor said it’s tough because “we all have the disease of being unable to draw back from more work.”

“On the one hand, there’s a lot of evidence saying that, beyond a certain point, working excessively hard actually doesn’t get you anywhere,” Kantor said, adding, “But the effort it takes, either on the part of individuals or businesses, to really draw back and establish limits – it’s very hard to do.”

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