Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work

Woman working on an airplane motor at North Am...

Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Don’t shoot me just yet!

This title is not my opinion- it is just a sneaky, underhanded way to entice you to read. If you want to skewer me in the comments for headline trickery, I admit I’m guilty as charged. However, if you’ll lower your defenses for a moment, I’ll explain why women lie more than men when it comes to how much they work.

BLS Finds Women Lie More About How Much They Work – At Work and at Home

Who in their right mind would publish a report on how much people lie about working? Answer: the Bureau of Labor Statistics – your tax dollars hard at work.

According to research from the BLS, when asked how many hours worked, all sexes overestimated the number of hours they actually worked. However, women consistently lied more when compared to men. For example, when a group of full-time working men were asked how much they work, men overestimated their work hours by an average of 3.9 hours. A similar pool of women responded with nearly double the error; 6.3 hours.

Women were common offenders when it came time to estimate work at home. The study found women overestimate home work by 15 hours each week. Comparatively, men overestimated by 13 hours. In both cases, sexes overestimated by nearly double the amount they actually worked. While having a strong work ethic is important regardless of your sex, getting an online MBA will teach you the skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

It’s all great ammunition for the battle of the sexes. However, there is a reason for why women tend to come up wrong on the hours worked.

Women Tend to Have Less Structure in their Day

No, women are not overestimating how much they work because they are gender’s great exaggerators. If you were paying close attention to the figures above, you’ll notice something interesting: people are better at estimating work hours than work at home hours. That’s because structure provides you with a reference point to better estimate your time. Men work more professional hours. Professional work hours are more structured and so it’s easier for them to estimate. Women tend to put in more housework, have flexible professional schedules and do tasks related to child care (on average). With “hectic” as the status quo for the typical woman, work overestimation is completely understandable.

Hectic Inherently Multiplies the Feeling of Work

A fairer headline for my article would have been that “hectic work schedules multiplies the perception that you are working.” However, you have to admit that the less fair title is a bit more provocative.

I work full-time and I’m a dad to two young children. My wife works a couple of hours a week and is a full-time mother. Regardless of who works more, odds are, my wife’s actual work is multiplied by a feeling of 2X.

Here’s the cold hard math about my wife’s work day. The children wake up between the hours of 5:30 and 8. Getting out of the house happens only after herding cats children through about 50 necessary tasks, from dressing to potty time. Even in the wee hours of the night, you never know when the boogeyman will visit the underside of our children’s beds.

The age old debate of whether Mr. or Mrs Smith are pulling their own weight in hours worked is completely irrelevant to question of “who feels like they are working more.” When you look at it in this light, the winner of the hardest working adult goes to the spouse with the more hectic schedule.

I rest my case.

Do you feel like you work more when your schedule is more hectic? How do you fairly divide work between your spouse?

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23 Responses to Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work

  1. femmefrugALity on 10/22/2012 at 10:35 pm

    I think it would be interesting to see a study done based not on gender, but on who the main breadwinners were in the household. Or if both parents/spouses contribute the same amount, if there was still a drastic difference in the estimates. I think you have a good argument…the one in the body, not the title. :p

    • John on 10/22/2012 at 10:40 pm

      Interesting thought. So income versus how much time people spent working?

      At least in sheer average numbers, men worked about 3 to 4 hour longer (in actuality and not estimate). Women worked about 4 to 5 hours more at home.

      • femmefrugality on 10/26/2012 at 9:50 pm

        I guess that doesn’t quite even out. You’d have to look at how many hours they worked. And somehow come up with a rubric to judge how hectic their work environment was.

  2. Pauline on 10/23/2012 at 3:18 am

    It is hard to divide fairly, but I think if the woman stays at home she should do all the house work regardless of how many hours it takes. Couples already spend little time together and if you have to do chores on weekends on top of that it is not good.
    I never thought about fairly dividing chores with my bf, it always depended on who worked the most hours at work. If I was there early, I would make dinner, and if I was away for the weekend he would clean.

  3. Jason Clayton | frugal habits on 10/23/2012 at 12:46 pm

    This certainly isn’t true in my job. I find that the women work just as hard as the guys and many times harder, and are also Mom’s of 2 or more kids at home.

    I would think in reality for today’s world, both spouses work just as hard, but each situation is different based on the individuals.

    • John on 10/23/2012 at 1:37 pm

      Be careful that you don’t miss the overall point; less structure makes you feel like you are working more. For women putting in 40 hours a week, I’d expect them to estimate their professional work hours close to their male peers. This information is better used for spouses who have very different work days.

  4. John S @ Frugal Rules on 10/23/2012 at 1:13 pm

    I totally agree that hecticness makes things “feel” busier than you might actually be. Thankfully I married a woman who’s very laid back which balances me out a lot. In terms of fairly dividing, I think it’s having a committment to getting things done and not just letting things slide. We tend to view it as a big picture deal that needs to be taken care of and we both work to get it done.

    • John on 10/23/2012 at 1:39 pm

      That’s great! Having a commitment to get done what needs to be done is the way to go.

  5. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom on 10/23/2012 at 9:52 pm

    I totally agree, feeling hectic throws your perception of how much you’ve worked – I’m currently a stay at home mom and most days I describe my activities as busy boredom! I’m always busy, but get little accomplished!

  6. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom on 10/24/2012 at 8:26 am

    OK, so I was thinking about your post while I was up at 3am last night helping my almost 3 year old go pee, and then having a test of will to get him to wear a pull up again…… just what does this study consider “work”? Because I count being up at 3 am with my kiddo while my husband zzzs away work – I hope that study does too.

  7. Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity on 10/24/2012 at 12:05 pm

    You said it John–taxpayer dollars hard at work…doing nothing of relevance.

    It’s amazing to me how everything that has nothing to do with gender get broken down that way. I mean, does it really matter who lies more or less? I can’t see how that information is going to be beneficial in any way. Bottom line is PEOPLE lie about how much they work on surveys. The same way they lie about so many other things when it comes to sch reports like how much tv they watch or how much they spend on certain items. The only difference is that consumer surveys actually help marketers where studies like this help no one as far as I can see.

  8. AverageJoe on 10/24/2012 at 9:47 pm

    I find things are hectic at home and can totally see that exaggeration corresponds. I work from home and there are days I realize that I’ve been busy all day long instead of productive.

  9. Jana @ Daily Money Shot on 10/25/2012 at 7:56 pm

    Why does it matter who exaggerates and why? There are some days taking care of my daughter feels like I have put in 75 hours of work even if it’s only been 15 minutes. It’s about perception and honestly, if it makes someone feel good to lie or exaggerate about how much they works, who cares? I’m not judging them so they don’t have to justify it to me.

  10. [...] Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work on My Family Finances [...]

  11. Marie at Family Money Values on 10/30/2012 at 12:44 pm

    ummmmm, how did you say they figured out who was lying?

  12. Harry @ PF Pro on 10/31/2012 at 1:17 am

    I’m reading freakonomics right now so all these studies have been pretty interesting to me lately. Seems like in this case though, your explanation makes sense. I wouldn’t mind being a stay at home dad so one day I might be the one over estimating my hours worked :)

  13. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work – If you’ll lower your defenses for a moment, I’ll explain why women lie more [...]

  14. [...] @ My Family Finances writes Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work – If you’ll lower your defenses for a moment, I’ll explain why women lie more [...]

  15. Blog Carnival | Parenting and Money on 11/04/2012 at 10:44 am

    [...] @ My Family Finances writes Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work – If you’ll lower your defenses for a moment, I’ll explain why women lie more [...]

  16. Blog Carnival « Parenting and Money on 11/04/2012 at 10:48 am

    [...] @ My Family Finances writes Women Lie More than Men When It Comes to How Much They Work – If you’ll lower your defenses for a moment, I’ll explain why women lie more [...]

  17. TAOST on 11/04/2012 at 4:08 pm

    Being a stay at home parent also leads to actually working more… it’s like self employment… the work day never really ends.

  18. Eric on 11/15/2012 at 2:11 pm

    Your headline got me, and it was very interesting. Nice article. My workday is very structured and I could see why some women would be more likely to exaggerated a bit depending on their personal circumstances.

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