Another reason it sucks to be unmarried and childless

A new report says single women put in relatively more unpaid overtime.

Published February 22, 2008 10:00PM (EST)

Single and childless woman in your 30s, listen up. While tending to your 12 cats, freezing your eggs, desperately scanning profiles and polishing off that pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby, you're also, according to a new report, doing more unpaid work than your wedded stroller-pushing rivals! Well, at least that's the imagery evoked by much of the media coverage of the report. In a headline, the Telegraph trumpets, "'Bridget Jones's' do the most unpaid overtime," and the Daily Mail runs with a photograph of a business woman yapping on the phone with the caption "single sorrow."

This hysteria was sparked by a report released Friday by Britain's Trades Union Congress finding that single, childless women in their 30s are more likely than mothers, fathers and childless men to do unpaid overtime work. Among childless women, 24.2 percent work unpaid overtime, averaging 7.4 hours a week; 17 percent of mothers put in unpaid overtime, averaging 5.7 hours. Interestingly enough, men who do put in unpaid hours clock the most overtime on average; fathers put in an average of 8.3 hours, compared with 7.4 hours for single men.

Kat Banyard of the Fawcett Society, a women's rights organization, points out that these statistics represent that familiar child-or-career choice facing women. She hits the nail right on the head: "They are forced to choose between caring for a family at home or maximizing their career opportunities in a workplace that measures performance by the number of hours put in."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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