Never underestimate the power of feminist mathematics
Women are working longer hours while men are putting in less time for their money.
And yet the pay gap between the sexes has widened, research revealed yesterday.
A nationwide survey of 1,600 employees found that women now work almost 34 hours a week on average - half a day longer than the figure of 30.4 hours five years ago.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which carried out the research, the shift reflects the growing number of women in more demanding management roles and professional jobs.
Over the same five-year period, men's average work hours fell from 45.5 hours per week to 44.8 hours, although among the hardestworking males the number putting in more than 49 hours a week has passed the three million mark.
Separate research from the Office of National Statistics shows the average salary gap between men and women has grown from 18 per cent to 19 per cent over the past three years - largely because of disproportionate pay rises among senior bosses, more of whom are male.
Women are also more likely to be found in relatively poorly-paid caringprofessions than men, pushing down their overall average wages.
Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary and Cabinet Minister for Women, has promised more help to promote flexible working, particularly for women.
According to the CIPD, more women are now working full time and staying in jobs for longer because of improved maternity provision.
The study found one in four people believed Britain's culture of working long hours had taken its toll on their mental health, while a similar proportion said their sex life or relationship with their children had suffered.
Almost three-quarters of those working long hours admitted they were likely to go to work even if they were ill, while two thirds had gone to the office on public holidays in the past year and half said they would put work ahead of a personal commitment.
Yet most said they believed excessive hours meant they performed worse in the workplace, taking longer to complete a task and making more mistakes-Mike Emmott, head of employee relations at CIPD, said: 'The negative effects of working long hours are increasingly recognised.'
But he said the survey found little support for ending Britain's optout from the European Working Time Directive aimed at limiting the working week to 48 hours, and around half of those who worked long hours said they did so out of choice.
The UK is the only EU country where workers can opt out of the directive, although the rules are under review. Technically workers cannot work more than 48 hours without signing an agreement.
Past research has found the average UK worker puts in 43.6 hours a week compared with 38.4 hours a week in Belgium, which boasts Europe's shortest working week.
The Government claims from its own surveys that the number of workers putting in more than 48 hours a week has fallen from 23.5 per cent to 20.4 per cent over the past six years, while the average working week has shrunk by around one hour over the same period.