Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Speed Blogging 8/21/2013. Or How We Work: The Death of the Forty-Hour Workweek, Flex-Time not for Single Women and the Gender Wage Gap Among Kids

This sad story deserves much more than a note in a speed list.  I've written a little before about the slow death of the forty-hour week, the way working much, much longer is regarded as ethical and important and AOK, the way we ignore the fall of productivity with fatigue and the fact that nobody working like that really can be said to have a family. 

That all this is "voluntary" (though perhaps the Roman gladiators also volunteered) and trickling down from the top income classes makes the analysis trickier but not impossible.  An odd sort of capitalist work ethic. 

Two studies (neither of which I have read) suggest that women are less likely to be given flex-time at work than men, and that this applies especially to young single women.  Why that might be the case (if the studies are done well) is worth thinking about.  The linked article suggests a few reasons.

On the gender wage gap among little children.  Once again, I have not checked the studies the article mentions, but the results seem intuitive:  Traditional boys' jobs pay more than traditional girls' jobs (and that is a bit surprising, given that babysitting might be the most important of these jobs in some deeper sense and it's a traditional girls' job).   I think market analysis breaks down here (as it mostly does, outside real marketplaces).

Soraya points out that girls' traditional jobs are hidden inside the house, boys' traditional jobs are outside.  To that I'd like to add that the girls' traditional jobs actually take many more weekly hours, because dusting, folding, doing the dishes, sweeping etc. must be done quite frequently, at least when compared to cutting the grass and taking the trash out (among the traditional boys' jobs).

If I had to make a guess about what's going on I'd add to the obvious reasons (gender roles, duh) the fact that the jobs were much more equal on a traditional farm with animals and many outside chores, only some of which (such as feeding the chickens?) were allocated to girls.  The shift from farms to other occupations meant that the boys' jobs shrunk but the girls' jobs didn't, at least not to the same extent.

And just for fun:  On being an introvert.


Added later:  This post should not be interpreted as an overall review of "how we work."  It doesn't cover what's happening in the lowest-paid jobs in this country or the lack of proper vacations or the increasing shift towards more and more employer rights and fewer and fewer worker rights.  The title is just a short-hand cover for some of the things that caught my eye in the last day or so.