RWTH Aachen University Supports Equal Distribution of Care Work
The Equal Opportunities Office supports fathers at the university with reconciling family and professional or study responsibilities. Events, campaigns, and awareness-raising activities on the subject of fatherhood are regularly offered at the university as a part of the Väterarbeit at RWTH.
The Equal Opportunity Career Paths project takes up the issue of dividing family and work-life equally as a couple and shows new ways of sharing unpaid care duties and paid work. Students, doctoral candidates, and post-docs are given the opportunity to address this issue, plan their careers, pursue their own ideas and goals, and express these in workshops and coaching sessions. Employees and managers at the university are also informed of alternative forms of work as well as working time models that enable equal career paths.
The Welcome and Dual Career Service of the RWTH supports dual career couples during their new start in Aachen.
Further training and information events that also address work-life balance are also offered for the various target groups at the university in the context of Staff Development at RWTH.
Managers are supported in executing their personnel management responsibilities with guidance from the Golden Rules of Family-Friendly Leadership.
The FAMOS für FAMILIE prize is annually awarded to managers who have already achieved outstanding success in family-friendly personnel management.
Care work – or care duties – include activities such as housework, bringing up children, and caring for relatives. A large part of this work is provided unpaid - and the majority of it is done by women. All over the world, care work is mainly a women's job, as a study by the International Labour Organization, or ILO for short, proves:
Women perform about four times more unpaid care work than men. In Germany, women perform four hours and 13 minutes of care work a day. In contrast, men spend two hours and 46 minutes on it, according to the Second Equality Dossier of the Federal Government. The gender care gap in Germany is thus around 52 percent.
Even if women are employed full-time, they provide 1.4 times more housework and 1.5 times more care work than full-time employed men, according to a study by the Hans Böckler Foundation. The combination of paid work outside the home and care work within the family can quickly lead to overwork. After all, child care and house cleaning is not everything that’s involved in care work: In addition, everything has to be organized, planned, remembered, and thought about for family life to run smoothly. The responsibility for these planning and coordination processes is also mostly assumed by women. The effect is a permanently increased mental load.
The fact that women bear the main burden of unpaid work has further negative consequences – besides them being overworked: women have no or only limited access to the labor market and therefore earn less money and thus have lower pension entitlements. For men, however, part-time work is the exception. So the gender care gap leads to the gender pay gap and finally to the gender retirement gap. Moreover, a certain social hierarchy goes hand in hand with this: One kind of work is paid and socially valued; the other is performed unpaid in the private sector and remains invisible. This ultimately leads to an unequal distribution of power, codetermination, and participation in our society.
Although our lives in coexistence would not function without care work, it nevertheless receives little recognition. This is not least reflected in the low pay for care professionals. Even if care activities are outsourced, the people who do this work often earn little money and have little opportunity to provide for old age. And it is also women who make up the majority of those employed in this particular sector. It is ignored that, even though the care professions offer low pay and are held in low esteem, caring for other people can also be very rewarding. Caring for others builds character, leads to personal growth, and strengthens relationships - a benefit open to all genders!
We want to work together with all university members to make it possible for couples to equally share care duties to create equal opportunities for everyone. People must be made more aware of the injustices associated with the unequal distribution of care work because universities and companies benefit when supporting their employees in reconciling work and family life and promoting an egalitarian division of tasks.
According to a study by Roland Berger GmbH on behalf of the BMFSFJ, companies achieve higher profits when they specifically invest in compatibility offers. Employees call in sick less frequently, are more motivated, and change companies less often. And in addition to couples being happier in an egalitarian partnership, children also benefit from an equal division of gainful employment and care work, by the positive effect it has on their development according to the investigations by a research group at the University of Bonn. It is vital for children’s school performance and their ability to choose a career that girls and boys are equally confident in all areas. Traditional gender role attitudes in families restrict children too much. If traditional gender roles are modeled for them in their families, children quickly tend to believe that there are only specific gender roles for them, and that they should focus on certain school subjects and strive for certain careers.
This also has an impact on universities – especially technical universities such as RWTH Aachen University. Particularly in the STEM-subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the percentage of female students is sometimes below 20%. Studies, among others by McKinsey, however, prove that diverse teams are more successful.