Sunday, June 19, 2016

Long Hours on the Job Undermine Women's Health

The Telegraph does not really seem to have a good explanation for it, but the phenomenon must be noted. Working long hours is bad for women’s health. Working long hours is good for men’s health.

The disparity is striking. It reminds us of an obvious point, often noted. The higher a man rises in a status hierarchy the more attractive he becomes to women. The higher a woman rises in the same status hierarchy—in business or in a profession—the less attractive she becomes to men.

One also notes that women who work long hours and who rise up the status hierarchy often have problems with fertility.

The Telegraph reports on the research, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine:

Women who put in long hours in their careers greatly increase their risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease and cancer, a new study has shown.

Work weeks that averaged 60 hours per week or more over three decades were found to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis, according to new research from The Ohio State University.

The risk begins to climb when women put in more than 40 hours and takes a decidedly bad turn above 50 hours, researchers found.

Note the number: triple the risk!

As for men, the opposite seems to pertain:

Men who worked long hours had a higher incidence of arthritis, but none of the other chronic diseases.

Surprisingly, those men who worked moderately long hours, 41 to 50 hours weekly, had lower risk of heart disease, lung disease and depression than those who worked 40 hours or fewer.

Researchers believe that this difference occurs because women who work hard at their careers often have family and homemaking responsibilities that surpass those of men.

Without knowing more, we are inclined to doubt this interpretation. A woman who works 60 hours a week is unlikely to have a family in the first place and less likely to have a marriage. If she does and if she is successful, she will most likely have a staff taking care of home and family.

One suspects that the disparity is too great to be explained by home and family. Long hours undermine a woman’s health and enhance a man’s. One might study the effect of military service, especially combat, on the female body vs. its effect on the male body.

When feminists tell women that they are just like men, that gender differences are merely a social construct, they are encouraging women to adopt a lifestyle and a work schedule that is bad for their health. I repeat: "triple the risk."

It’s a thought for today.


Ares Olympus said...

Perhaps the problem exists in measurements.

A man might be AT WORK 60 hours/day, and actually be working 40 hours, at least if he's clever. I mean he's only paid for 40, right?

The same for a woman woman would actually have to get 60 hours of work done for her conscience to allow her to submit that imposing number. And it would be because she had no other choice than to work that hard to get things done, while she'd want to be elsewhere.

And men might even see being AT WORK as an escape from stress.

If we really want a good study, it seems obvious we have to look by occupation as well. It could be women's work, which tends to be more service oriented, is actually more stressful than professional men's where he makes the rules.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I wonder if I was wrong in my thoughts, myself living in the status world of salary, I didn't consider how many people work more than 40 hours/week because they have more than one job!

And the women I know who have two jobs, college educated or not, are working 50+ hour weeks by necessity, even if one cousin of mine is doing to pay down debt faster, I have wondered how long she can do that, or if she falls behind because she works so hard, and then spends more than she should to feel better.

I think people who work a full time job AND a part time job are crazy, and just the logistic of scheduling work and life seems impossible, much less parenthood. And it might seem to make the overworked salaried men or women look like a walk in the park.

But we need to know - when someone says they work 60hr/week is that someone who is on salary or someone who works 2 jobs?

So if women have a 3 times higher risk of disease for working long hours, it makes sense that many of those women must not feel they have a choice.

The Telegraph article itself opens with "Women who put in long hours in their careers greatly increase their risk of developing life-threatening illnesses" implying its ambitious women. Can we really assume that?

Are there other more detailed articles to compare assumptions? ... not really, all the google matches show mostly a very similar stunted article.

Overall its easy to be believed, people who work long hours without help learn shortcuts in getting everything done, and some of the those shortcuts will be unhealthful life choices, poor diet, alcohol, avoiding regular exercise, etc.

So without knowing the common factors all we might say is hard working women are less good at self-care, and eventually reality catches up on them.

I'd also be interested whether conscientiousness can be associated with success younger in life, but health problems later, when you don't learn how to say no to more responsibility when it is against your self-interest.

Speculation is fun, but not always useful for making life decisions.