Battle of the Sexes

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

The American Time Use Survey was developed by the Department of Labor and conducted by the Census Bureau. Established in 2003, this study collects information about the things Americans do each day, such as work, household activities, educational pursuits and leisure activities and how much time we spend doing them.

While the study looks at American households, decided to take a look at this data from a different perspective – men vs. women – and some of the findings are pretty interesting.

At Work

According to the survey, employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours per day over the course of an entire week (weekends included). Men worked about three-quarters of an hour more than employed women, a difference that is likely influenced by the greater likelihood that women work on a part-time basis.

However, amongst full-time workers men only worked slightly longer than women – an average of 8.2 hours versus 7.8 hours for women.

Working from home: Of the entire American workforce, hours worked at home averaged 2.8 hours per day, while hours worked at a workplace averaged 7.9 hours per day. Men and women were equally likely to do some or all of their work at home.

On an average day, 83 percent of women and 66 percent of men spent some time doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management. On the days that they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.7 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.2 hours.

Chores: On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework - such as cleaning or doing laundry - compared with 52 percent of women.

Meals: Thirty-seven percent of men did food preparation or cleanup compared with 64 percent of women, indicating that men are more involved when it comes to eating time.

More than 96 percent of survey respondents participate in leisure activities (watching TV, socializing or exercising) during the day with television viewing accounting for half of all leisure time reported for both men and women. Of the 96 percent, men spent more overall leisure time (5.7 hours) than did women (5.0 hours).

Time for sports: Twenty-one percent of men versus 16 percent of women are more likely to participate in sports, exercise or recreation. On the days they participate in these activities, men spent 2.0 hours and women spent 1.4 hours.

(Adults in Households with Children)

During an average weekday, women spent 1.2 hours providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children while men spent 23 minutes.

Weekends: On an average Saturday or Sunday, women provided about an hour of physical care to household children, while men provided about half an hour.

(Educational and Organizational, civic and religious)

Of those engaged in educational activities, such as attending class or doing homework and research, men and women were closely matched, with men and women both spending an overall 5.4 hours on an average day.

Of those engaged in organizational activities, such as religious activities or volunteering, women spent 11 percent of their time per day involved in religious and spiritual activities compared to 7 percent for men. Additionally, women spent 8 percent of their day volunteering while men spent 6 percent.

There is growing concern that this study will be cut by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to save an estimated $4.3 million. The Coalition to Save the American Time Use Study is a group of social scientists who hope that this data source will be preserved identifying it as the broadest survey of its kind that provides “a unique window on ourselves and society.” Though a relatively new study, they feel the survey, alone and in conjunction with other research, is an invaluable tool for businesses, policymakers, researchers and consumers.

Whether we will see a new study in 2009 is still unclear. Stay tuned.

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