Working women feel they have to work harder than men

November 29th, 2007 - 4:39 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 29 (ANI): A new study has found that women feel they have to work harder than men in a workplace.

Sociologists Elizabeth Gorman of the University of Virginia and Julie Kmec of Washington State University, carried out five different surveys given in different years, to different groups of men and women in Britain and the United States.

They discovered that a gender gap persisted in ratings of the statement: “My job requires that I work very hard, with women significantly more likely to say they strongly agreed.

Between a man and a woman who hold the same job, shoulder the same burdens at home and have the same education and skills, the woman is likely to feel she must work harder, Gorman said..

Explaining the association between gender and required work effort, the authors said in their paper, We (Have to) Try Harder: Gender and Required Work Effort in Britain and the United States: “We argue that the association between sex and reported required work effort is best interpreted as reflecting stricter performance standards imposed on women, even when women and men hold the same jobs.

A lot of experimental research has shown that people rate the same performance as better when told it was done by a man. It follows that women have to do better than a man in order to get the same evaluation. Here we see how this plays out in the effort women must put in at work, Gorman said.

“This is what women are up against. They have to prove themselves,” she added.

The researchers compared results from the same question asked in nationally representative surveys in 1977, 1992, two in 1997, and in 2001. The four later national surveys used the same statement as in the 1977 survey to yield comparable answers. The study concentrated its analysis on the two surveys conducted in 1997, the U.S. National Study of the Changing Workforce and the Skills Survey of the Employed British Workforce.

Controlling for physical and mental demands of the job and whether family responsibilities drained energy, Gorman and Kmec found that neither group of factors explain the different findings about work effort. The only interpretation that held up was that women were held to higher performance standards.

The researchers analyzed the survey data to see if, in fact, women did have more difficult jobs, but that was not the case. Even when the jobs were almost identical, women still were significantly more likely to say they had to work very hard.

In looking for another potential reason, the sociologists considered whether domestic responsibilities outside of work, including child care and housework, made women feel more fatigued and that they had to work harder to keep up, but that did not emerge as the answer either.

“Marriage and parenthood had the same effect on reports of required effort for women and men. In the U.S. sample, the researchers were able to match workers on the number of hours they spent on childcare and housework. Between men and women who performed the same amount of child care and housework, women were still more likely to say their jobs required them to work very hard, Gorman said.

Gorman and Kmec then compared their findings to research about attitudes and beliefs held about men and women in the workplace.

We know that people give lower marks to an essay, a painting or a resume when it has a womans name on it. And when a man and a woman work together on a project, people assume the man contributed more than the woman did. Even when a womans work is indisputably excellent, people dont believe shes goodthey think she got lucky. In light of this previous research, it makes sense to conclude that women have to work harder to win their bosses approval, she said.

Gorman stressed that it wouldn’t be fair to use this research to reinforce stereotypes.

“We don’t want employers to be exploiting female workers,” she said, because they know women impose higher standards on themselves and will work harder, she added.

The study is published in the December issue of the journal Gender and Society. (ANI)

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