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Housework still holding women back

Date 7 Dec 2007

Women are being held back at work because they are still doing most of the work at home, according to new research. Modern day women are still shouldering most household duties such as childcare and cleaning, while earning less and working longer hours than men, the study by Cambridge University found.

There is still a "high level" of segregation in people's working lifestyles and there has been little progress in cutting the gender pay gap since the early 1990s, said academics. According to the study of 30,000 workers in all 27 countries in the European Union, women also struggled to break into management roles.

Chief researcher Dr Brendan Burchell said: "The working lifestyles of most people in Europe still seem to be determined by gender."

The researchers said they were struck by how little results for long-standing EU members such as Britain, Germany and France had changed since 1991. Because women do more work in the home they tend to take on more part-time work and lower-paid roles, said the report. The greater domestic workload also prevents them from working the long hours typically needed to break into top management jobs.

Dr Burchell said: "Because women are rarely the highest earners in the household, there seems to be an economic rationale for making them responsible for domestic duties. The best way to break that would be to reduce gender inequality in employment and the household together - for instance, by encouraging men to take their parental leave entitlements."

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