Women struggle with full-time
Almost half of all Australian female full-time
workers would like to work less hours.
Image: iStockphoto

Australian women are questioning the strain imposed by full-time work – whether they have children or not, the 2009 Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) report has uncovered.

The report also shows work-life balance for full-time working women is deteriorating.

Director of UniSA’s Centre for Work + Life, Professor Barbara Pocock, one of the report’s authors, said the third AWALI report found many women who work full-time would like to reduce their work hours to part-time.

“We found a third of all full-time women would like to go part-time, taking into account the effect on their income,” Prof Pocock said.

“This preference is stronger amongst full-timers who are mothers, with 38.7 per cent of all full-time working mothers reporting they would like to work part-time. But over a quarter of women without children also want to shift to part-time hours.

“These findings highlight the impact of work hours on women, and mothers in particular.

“Women are questioning full-time work. The conditions of full-time work, and the fact they are juggling most of the home duties as well, can be really tough on women and we need to change that.”

AWALI 2009 shows women working full-time are most likely to report frequent work-life pressures and poor work-life interaction over any other employee group.

In fact, 29.1 per cent of full-time working women are feeling under pressure, with work often or almost always interfering with life outside of work. This has increased from 18.4 per cent in 2007.

Time with family and friends is especially squeezed for full-time working women – a third say they often or always find that work restricts their time with family and friends.

Prof Pocock said women working full-time would like to reduce their working hours from an average of 43.2 hours per week to 36.3 hours (almost a full day less at work).

Three quarters of women working more than 48 hours a week would like to work less (the figure is 67.1 per cent in men). However, those working 35 to 47 hours want to work less too – 38.8 per cent of these workers would like to work fewer hours.

“Overall, almost half of all full-time women would like to work fewer hours, while around a third of full-time men would like to join them,” she said.

Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.