Do working mums in Asia struggle more for career and family?

Do working mums in Asia struggle more for career and family?
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

Working mothers in South Korea spend several more hours on the weekends dealing with domestic tasks than stay-at-home mothers, while also taking a larger portion of housework than their spouses, a recent study showed, revealing the dark side of women with careers struggling to balance work and family.

According to a study jointly conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family along with Statistics Korea, employed mums, on average, worked two hours longer in terms of the length of labour both at work and home, and also had about an hour and 50 minutes less leisure time than stay-at-home mothers.

Though working mums spent three hours less than full-time mothers on weekdays for housework, including child care, the former worked 2 hours and 27 minutes more in total when adding in labour hours for their paid jobs.

On Saturdays and Sundays, women from double-income households spent two extra hours catching up on the housework that piled up over the week, the study found.

By age, women in their 30s spent the longest at nine hours and 13 minutes a day, an hour more than the average of other age groups, on "obligatory maintenance activities" such as work, household chores, study and travel time.

The average hours spent only on housework by women in their 30s was also longer than other age groups with four hours and 55 minutes.

The study also showed that the burden of household responsibilities in Asia's fourth-largest economy is still largely shouldered by mothers.

Women spent nearly two hours more on housework and child care than their spouses, the study showed. Mums, regardless of their employment status, spent two hours and 27 minutes on housework while men were engaged in household chores only 31 minutes a day.

In contrast, women in Australia, Canada and New Zealand did more than three hours of housework, but they were supported by their spouses who took care of the home for one hour and 50 minutes, nearly four times more than South Korean men.

The clear gender imbalance on housework in South Korea may derive from the traditional gender roles of men being breadwinners and women taking charge of housework, as well as the lower rate of economically active women in the job market, the ministry said in its report.

The statistics also showed that the female population surpassed the male population this year, with women aged 60 and over taking up 20.8 per cent of the entire population.

The employment rate of women came in at 49.5 per cent, 21.9 per cent points lower than men but an increase of 0.7 per cent points over the year before.

Those between 25 and 29 years of age showed the highest employment rate with 68.8 per cent, but the ratio reduced to around 50 per cent in the 30s when many women tend to get married and have children. The ratio rebounded to over 60 per cent in the 40s.

The rate of women going on to college reached 74.6 per cent, surpassing men's 67.6 per cent.

More women took up specialised professions, with 24.4 per cent of medical doctors being women, showing a consistent increase from 13.6 per cent in the 1980s. Some 26.4 per cent and 64.3 per cent of dentists and pharmacists were women, respectively.

Political advancement by women, however, still remain low, with 22.9 per cent of women winning in regional assembly elections last year and 15.7 per cent in general elections in 2012, the statistics said.

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