• FWX Sept qtr 2023  78.1
  • FWX yr-o-yr  1.91
  • FWX qtr-o-qtr  1.5
  • ASX 200 Boards years to equality  5.7
  • Underemployment years to equality  19.9
  • Superannuation years to equality  19
  • Gender pay gap years to equality  24.3
  • Employment years to equality  26.7
  • Unpaid work years to equality  44
  • Education years to equality  138.9

Women burdened by unpaid work load may never see equality

New HILDA data shows women are working harder than men but that many are unlikely to ever see equality in unpaid work.
December 8, 2021

Gender equality in unpaid work appears to be getting a little bit closer to becoming a reality…at least for the youngest of generations.

New figures confirm that prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, women were cutting back on the amount of time they were spending on housework and caring for loved ones in 2019 just as men were taking on more of the unpaid work load, according to the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) report.

The report is based on a survey of 17,500 people in 9,500 households across the nation.

The report found that reduction in the gap has partially come from males increasing their unpaid work from an average of 24.7 hours in 2002 to 27.8 hours in 2019 as females cut their hours from 53.5 hours in 2002 to 48.7 hours in 2019.

Based on the Financy Women’s Index and analysis of 2018 HILDA data, it’s expected to take 101 years for gender equality to be achieved in unpaid.

However given the change in the latest 2019 data, that time frame is likely to have declined somewhat modestly. The December quarter Women’s Index will look at this in more detail and will be released in early February 2022.

The HILDA survey notes that much of the decline for partnered females with dependent children occurred between 2016 and 2019, but for partnered males with dependent children, the decline has been happening since 2014.

The gap has also narrowed somewhat for couples without dependent children, again both because males have increased their time spent on unpaid work and females have decreased their time spent on unpaid work.

Since 2010, single-parent females have on average decreased the time spent on unpaid work, prior to which there was a considerable rise in the mean time spent on unpaid work from 2007.

Women still doing more work overall

What’s particularly notable in the report is that women in relationships, either with and without children, are still working slightly more in total paid and unpaid work hours than men.

People with dependent children stand out as working more in total compared to people without dependents.

In 2019, partnered females with dependent children averaged 75.7 hours of work per week, up from 72.0 hours in 2002, while partnered males with dependent children averaged 73.7 hours of work per week, up from 69.7 hours in 2002.

Single-parent females averaged 70.0 hours of work per week in 2019, up from 65.7 hours in 2002.

By contrast, in 2019, partnered females without dependent children averaged 48.5 hours of work and partnered males without dependent children averaged 46.3 hours.


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December 8, 2021
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