7 Ways Women Spend More Time Not Working
A few weeks ago, I was waiting in line for the bathroom at Shake Shack, which has three one-person stalls for any gender to use. Similar to the ladies’ room, the line was fairly long. I overheard a man behind me thinking out loud, complaining he’d never had to wait in line for the bathroom before.
That simple statement struck me as mind-boggling. I’ve spent so many minutes of my life waiting in line for the ladies’ room, and this guy had never experienced that before? He must save so much time!
Then it got me thinking, what else do women spend more time doing than men, just by the nature of being a woman? A long list began to form in my head — getting ready in the morning, shopping for clothing, maintaining health and wellness — and I realized one of the reasons there are so few female senators and CEOs is because there’s no damn TIME! Even Hillary Clinton had to take a longer pee break during the first Democratic debate!
We already know that women get shortchanged with more expensive costs of living, sometimes called “the woman tax.” Women’s healthcare costs more, clothing is more expensive, and even the price of women’s deodorant is artificially inflated!
But what about time? Women are already expected to hold down a job (or two or three) and provide a majority of family care simultaneously. On top of all of that, here’s a few other things that it takes women longer to do (and not necessarily by choice):
1. Morning routine (1–2 hours/day): One might think I should simply go the Steve Jobs route and wear the same thing every day to save myself 30–45 minutes of agony, but we’ve already proven that society only accepts that from men. Once my boyfriend has showered, he’s out the door in five minutes. For me, I not only take longer to shower (shaving your legs is a requirement of the Western world), but I also have to dry my hair, put on makeup, choose an outfit, get dressed, change the outfit, decide on shoes, change the outfit again and put on jewelry (and maybe change the outfit again). I can’t risk looking not put-together at work.
2. Healthcare (1–3 hours/month): Aside from the obvious monthly annoyance — feeling exhausted, dealing with extra personal hygiene routines, tending to cramps — women’s health is a bigger time suck than men might think. Even with the Affordable Care Act in place, it sometimes takes me multiple days to get my birth control prescription filled each month. Insurance companies have all kind of rules in place to make this process tedious and frustrating, and I’ve gone to CVS and come out empty-handed more times than I can count. Sidetone: I’ve been on the same pill (for health reasons) for almost ten years. And this still happens.
3. Shopping (4–6 hours/month): Yes, lots of women fit the stereotype of enjoying clothes shopping. Some even do it with their friends for fun! But what if I just need a basic pair of black jeans, no fuss, in and out of the store? Yeah, right! I’m 5 feet, 0 inches, and unlike men’s pants, women’s jeans don’t come in various lengths and waist combinations. This means I usually have to visit upwards of half a dozen stores for one simple item, and that does’t even include finding comfortable and nice-looking shoes.
4. Haircuts and manicures, pedicures, waxing… (2–4 hours/month): My boyfriend cuts his own hair in about 5 minutes. I have to make an appointment weeks in advance, travel to the salon, sit and wait for the stylist for 15–30 minutes, and sit in a chair for an hour, all for one haircut! Add that time up with semimonthly eyebrow threading, manicures for special occasions, and all kinds of other upkeep. Note: this is really not a choice as long as Photoshop and supermodels exist.
5. Maintaining relationships: I am not complaining about this, but there is a significant difference here. For women, maintaining friendships are much more about talking and staying involved in one another’s lives. For some men, frequent contact and long talks aren’t as necessary. This also applies to romantic relationships — remember that Sex in the City episode when Samantha couldn’t be a lesbian anymore because it involved too much talking?
6. Laundry (4–8 hours/month): All of those lacie things need to be hand-washed and air-dried, people.
7. Food, exercise and diet (1–5 hours/day): Under social pressure to be thin, eating well for women takes much more time. Usually women have to take more care with what they eat at every meal, especially if they want the healthy meal to actually taste good. Exercise for women can take up more hours as well, since lifting weights alone isn’t enough to keep the pounds off.
All of this adds up to over 200 hours per month women spend doing things men don’t (usually) choose to do or don’t (usually) have to do. That’s an extra month in 8-hour workdays! And we’re not even factoring in childcare, taking care of other family members, or being pregnant. I’m sure there are other things I’ve overlooked.
Basically, men are able to devote twice as much time during the work week to actual work than women — or they get more sleep. If women weren’t held to ridiculous standards of “beauty” or if men were held to similar standards, would we still be seeing images like this?