Women, Men, and Time: Differences in “Managing” a Limited Resource

Francis Wade

Francis Wade

Special thanks to Francis Wade of 2TimeLabs for his sharing his expertise.

Though women and men have the same amount of time, women seem to manage more time demands and have developed more skillful time practices to grapple with perceived “time scarcity,” according to detailed time-use studies by New South Wales’s Lyn Craig and Janeen Baxter of University of Queensland.

Lyn Craig

Lyn Craig

They found that working mothers invest more hours taking care of children and doing housework than their working husbands.

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

This finding validates the idea that women do a “Second Shift” of work – at home and at the office, described by University of California Berkeley’s Arlie Hochschild.

Brigid Schulte

Brigid Schulte

Personal anecdotes from of women stretched between “two shifts” validate these research findings, distilled in journalist Brigid Schulte’s popular Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.

Therese Macan

Therese Macan

To grapple with time demands that may seem to outweigh available time resources, women typically engage in significantly more mechanical time management behaviors like planning, listing, and scheduling, found University of Missouri’s Therese Macan, Comila Shahani of Hofstra University and Robert Dipboye of University of South Florida, who developed the Time Management Behaviors (TMB) inventory

Abdülkadir Pehlivan

Abdülkadir Pehlivan

Many, but not all, gender differences appear to hold across countries and cultures:  Like Macan’s team, Karadeniz Technical University’s Abdülkadir Pehlivan noted that women use more listing, planning and programming than men.

In contrast, male volunteers said they feel more in charge of their time management behaviors, even when they don’t employ the same systematic time procedures as women.

Ranjita Misra

Ranjita Misra

However in a U.S. investigation, females reported better perceived “control” of time, based on using “mechanical” techniques like setting and prioritizing goals as well as planning, reported West Virginia University’s Ranjita Misra and Michelle McKean.
In addition, women said they organize tasks and workspaces more frequently than men.

Despite this efficiency, women paid a price with higher anxiety and lower leisure satisfaction, which may explain the need to develop improved practices.
Males, in contrast, reported more leisure activities and less anxiety.

Tanya Meade

Tanya Meade

In addition, Australian Time Organisation and Management Scale (ATOMS), developed by University of Western Sydney’s Tanya Covic Meade, B.J. Adamson, M. Lincoln and P.L. Kench revealed that 71% of women volunteers recognize this gender difference in time practices:  Women respondents and Meade’s team concluded that “females may be better at carrying out behavioral activities associated with time management, such as making lists and keeping a diary.”

Mark Trueman

Mark Trueman

Another study found that female student volunteers reported considerably greater use of time “management” skills than male students in a five-year investigation by Keele University’s Mark Trueman and James Hartley and in similar research by Al Ain University of Science and Technology Ahmad Saleh Al Khatib.

Nurten Kaya

Nurten Kaya

These gender differences also persisted in specific working environments such as nursing in University of Istanbul’s study by Hatice Kaya with Nurten Kaya, Aylin Öztürk Palloş, Leyla Küçük, which found that female students were able to manage their time better than male students.

Jale Eldeleklioglu

Jale Eldeleklioglu

Because time is a limited and valuable resource, Uludag University’s Jale Eldeleklioglu suggested the life skill of time “management” should begin at a young age in school: ” male students’ time management skills are not as developed as female students’ (so we need) more programs to reduce anxiety and improve students’ time management skills.

-*What differences have you observed in the ways that women and men interact with available time?

-*What practices have you found beneficial in managing time demands?

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