Flexible work schedules might be a trap for women

Flexible working hours have long been considered key to closing the gender gap, but a new study reveals women use much of the “free time” to catch up with household chores.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Flexible work schedules might be a trap for women

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Why this story matters:

Working from home for many women means sitting in front of the laptop while trying to do the laundry, cooking and washing the dishes at the same time. The workflow is thus interrupted every half an hour or so to catch up with household chores.

Flexible working hours have long been seen as a great way to close the gender gap. It does have many advantages, among others, it helps re-integrate women into the labour market. The freedom of choosing when and where to do one’s job should not be underestimated but it is worth taking a look at what employers and female employees make of this flexibility.

Part-time jobs, work from home and flexible working hours may reproduce the gender inequality in some cases because employers often reduce the salary of those who choose to work in a “non-traditional” way. Even if they are not paid less, women who opt for flexible working hours choose to do so to dedicate more time to household chores and family issues -- a conference organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Budapest concluded.

What do men do in the meantime? It may not be a surprise that women and men make the most out of flexibility differently: while women dedicate more time to the household, men use it for managing their career.

Details from the story:

  • By 2020, 70 percent of employers will allow employees to do part of their job when and where they choose.
  • The difference between the employment rate of men and women has increased in the past 14 years in the EU among Central and Eastern European member states.
  • In Hungary, the employment rate of women has increased from 50.7 percent to 62.4 percent, while in the case of men it increased from 63.3 per cent to 76.5 per cent. Yet while the overall employment rate has increased, so has the gender gap.
  • The average gross income of Hungarian women is 15 percent less than the average gross income of men.
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