Americans are known for logging more hours at work than most other developed nations, often linked to higher raises and faster promotions. However, a recent study published in Social Psychology Quarterly reveals how this overwork culture significantly disadvantages women in two key ways, whether they choose to overwork or not.

The study involved 230 U.S. employees who reviewed two hypothetical worker profiles with identical performance reviews but different working hours—one at 40 hours a week, and another at 60. Despite similar performance levels, the worker logging 60 hours was favored nearly 89% of the time for promotions and management training, indicating a strong overwork premium.

This bias puts women at a disadvantage for several reasons:

  • Women and Unpaid Labor: Women often engage in more unpaid household and childcare labor, which can limit their availability for extended work hours.
  • Efficiency Overlooked: Even if women complete the same workload more efficiently in fewer hours, their efficiency is undervalued compared to longer working hours.
  • Gender Bias in Overwork: When women do work longer hours, the study found they are less likely to receive the same rewards as men, who are often seen as more committed.

The findings suggest a critical need for organizations to move away from hours-based performance evaluations to more objective and results-oriented metrics. This shift could enable fairer assessments and help close the gender gap in workplace rewards. Moreover, promoting more balanced work hours and reducing the emphasis on overwork could benefit all employees’ health and overall workplace productivity.

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