Women and cognitive overload on the third shift

by Oct 22, 2019

Why do women agree to take on cognitive overload?

The gender gap is present everywhere, and the cognitive overload causes huge problems in the work life balance.

Despite women making up almost 50% of the workforce, we are still not making the progress we should, nor that we deserve. But gender balance is as much a relationship and family issue as it is a workplace issue.

Research from the EU suggests that 15 out of 30 member states believe it is the role of the woman to take care of the household and children. While in Canada and the US, a Gallup poll suggests that 21% of men think that a woman’s place is at home.

So, set against that background, it’s hardly surprising women are carrying out the lionesses’ share of household chores. Furthermore they also doing most of the cognitive work, i.e. the thinking work. Sometimes called the invisible work or the third shift, this involves the planning, scheduling, negotiating and problem-solving work. It is everything involved in being the Chief Domestic Officer of your own home and family.

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In short, it covers all the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes households function smoothly. This can include dental and medical appointments, birthday gifts, back-up arrangements, permission slips, play dates, special school days, and food preferences, not just of your own kids but their friends too.

cognitive overload

Even when a woman is the primary wage earner, she is still twice as likely to be managing the household. As a result, the majority of women are fulfilling roles as a revenue generator, parent, and concierge for their families. This involves huge amounts of energy anticipating, planning, arranging and juggling the logistics. Because this work is behind the scenes it tends to be unrecognised, under-valued and not appreciated.

No wonder women struggle with work life balance. These additional chores very often contribute to burnout and mental health issues.

How do you cope with the “third shift?”

If you feel passionate about gender balance and topical issues impacting women in the workplace 3Plus would be delighted to publish your work. Don't wait - send it in

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