StatCan Research on Gender and Paid/Unpaid Work

StatCan recently released results from research they did on the time people spend on paid and unpaid work in Canada. Here are some of the highlights:

Men increased the time they spent on unpaid work activities by 15 minutes from 1998 to 2010, while the time women spent on these activities remained stable.

On average, women spent 4 hours 38 minutes on a given day on unpaid work activities in 2010, 1 hour 13 minutes more than men.

The amount of time men spent on paid work and related activities decreased by 14 minutes on any given day between 1998 and 2010, to an average of 8 hours 36 minutes. In contrast, the time spent by women remained stable at just over 7 hours 40 minutes per day.

Added up, this means that the average Canadian woman and man spend roughly the same amount of time working: 12 hours and 18 minutes for women and 12 hours and 1 minute for men. The difference is that the work women do is not as valued (in our capitalist context). The type of work women do is not compensated for. Of course this doesn’t mean that it is less valuable – its hard to argue that volunteering at a local women’s shelter or helping to raise and feed children is less important that many of the jobs people get paid for.

More from the research:

Regardless of the child’s age, women spent more time on their care than did men. For example, women with children up to the age of 4 spent 6 hours 33 minutes per day caring for them. Among men, the corresponding duration was 3 hours 7 minutes.

What is important to note here is that childcare is unpaid labour, and when it is paid (taking care of another person’s children) it is poorly paid and often done by women. Having accessible, affordable, quality child care is something that is a women’s issue on all sides, and something our government has not moved forward with (although they will provide financial assistance to more ‘masculine’ industries  – follow the link for an excellent piece on gender and work, with some analysis of 2009 stimulus funding. Its a bit old but a must-read).

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