Women are more productive than men at work these days

It's just one of the workplace gender insights in a new study.

  • Women complete 10 percent more office work than men.
  • Gender divisions persist between women and men at work.
  • New study reveals some habits we need to break.

There are certainly measures by which we've barely made any progress on gender equality in the workplace. There remains a "pink tax" that has women still making 81.8 percent of what mean earn for the same work performed by men. And there's still a shocking underrepresentation of women in executive suites. Hive is a productivity platform that works with an impressive roster of large companies, and they wanted to learn more about if and how gender experiences have changed in today's office spaces. The company was able to anonymously source information from over 3,000 working men and women, and they've just released the results of their analysis in their "State of the Workplace Report" on gender. It contains some interesting insights.

All of the infographics in this article are by Hive.

Who produces more, men or women?

According to Hive, women work 10 percent harder than men in today's offices. This conclusion is the product of two other statistics. First, both men and women actually complete about 66 percent of their assigned work. However, women are assigned 10 percent more work than men these days — that they achieve the same completion rate tells us that they're being more industrious.

Why are women being given more to do? Hive cites research that finds it has to do with the kind of work allotted them, noting that, "women are assigned and spend more time on non-promotable tasks than men [our emphasis]. These non-promotable tasks are any activity that is beneficial to the organization, but does not contribute to career advancement." So basically, things men don't want to do are begin handed to women.

Productivity by gender

Does chatting really get in the way of work?

Research by the University of California suggests that chatting significantly disrupts the workday since it takes, on average, about 25 minutes to get back in the groove after such an interruption. Another study found that chatting leads to a reduction in productivity of about 20 percent.

Overall, women chat 20 percent more than men, but — given that they get 10 percent more done — chatting doesn't seem to be an issue for their productivity. In addition, they only dominate person-to-person chatting.

Group chats — such as those conducted on platforms such as Slack — are often less welcoming to female employees, and Hive finds that men do actually participate in them a bit more than women do.

Chatting at work

Is the use of passive language still a gender issue?

There's a generally accepted narrative that women aren't being assertive enough at work in the word choices they use for communicating. Hive cites the Just Not Sorry Gmail plug-in that flags such shy language. However, Hive's research finds no evidence for this particular gender gap, showing that passive language is equally likely to be used by both women and men.

Using passive language at work

Are genders finally becoming integrated?

This one is a bit disheartening, and may speak to the inter-gender tensions — or at least lack of comfort — that afflicts our cultures as a result of past and continuing gender inequality.

When it comes to individual chats, we tend to text others of our own gender. And when it comes to handing off work to others, the same is true. This certainly helps perpetuate the habit of keeping women occupied with non-career-advancing work.

For some it's probably the result of continuing workplace tensions, but for others it may be just a well-ingrained habit: as if stuck at some never-ending high-school dance, we may be simply more comfortable among our own.

Gender integration at work

Do you get more done if you work on weekends?

One final thing Hive looked at was whether or not working on weekends — when the world is quieter and there are fewer disruptions breaking our workflows — is actually more productive. Short answer: nope. Men slightly work more on weekends than women, but they get less done, so…

There are definitely more productive times of day during the work week, though. At 10 a.m. you're, relatively speaking, a house afire, by 4 pm, it's all ashes and cinders.

Working weekends and most productive times

Snapshot of us

Hive's report provides a glimpse of how we work these days, and how much further we have yet to go when it comes to truly integrating men and women at work. High school has been over a long time for most of us. It's past time to grow up.

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Want to forge stronger social bonds? Bring beer.

New research shows that a healthy supply of locally-sourced beer helped maintain Wari civilization for 500 years.

Culture & Religion
  • A new analysis of an ancient Wari brewery suggests chicha helped maintain the civilization's social capital for hundreds of years.
  • Civilizations throughout the ancient world used alcoholic drinks to signify kinship, hospitality, and social cohesion.
  • The researchers hope their findings will remind us of the importance in reaffirming social institutions and sharing cultural practices — even if over coffee or tea.

Beer is history's happiest accident. Though the discovery probably happened much earlier, our earliest evidence for beer dates back roughly 13,000 years ago. Around this time, the people of the Fertile Crescent had begun to gather grains as a food source and learned that if they moistened them, they could release their sweetness to create a gruel much tastier than the grains themselves.

One day a curious — or perhaps tightfisted — hunter-gatherer hid his gruel away for a safekeeping. When he returned, he found the bowl giving off a tangy odor. Not one to waste a meal, he ate it anyway and enjoyed an unexpected, though not unpleasant, sensation of ease. By pure happenstance, this ancestor stumbled upon brewing.

That's one possible origin story, but we know that our ancestors learned to control the process, and beer took a central role in Fertile Crescent civilizations — so central that Professor Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that beer, not bread, incentivized hunter-gatherers to relinquish their nomadic ways.

Beer may also be proof of a God who wants us to be happy (Dionysus?), because the beverage* would be independently rediscovered by peoples across the ancient world, including those in China and South America.

One such peoples, the pre-Inca Wari Civilization, made beer, specifically chicha de molle, a critical component in their religious and cultural ceremonies. In fact, a study published in Sustainability in April argues that the role was so important that beer helped keep Wari civilization intact for 500 years.

Brewing social capital

Twenty years ago, a team of archaeologists with the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, discovered a brewery in Cerro Baúl, a mesa in southern Peru that served as an ancient Wari outpost. The brewery contained original equipment, clay storage vessels, and compartments for milling, boiling, and fermentation.

The team recently analyzed these on-site vessels to uncover the secrets of the Wari brewing process. Removing tiny amounts of material found in the spaces between the clay, they were able to reconstruct the molecules of the thousand-year-old drink. They then worked alongside Peruvian brewers to recreate the original brewing process.**

Their molecular analysis revealed several key features of the beer: The clay used to make the vessels came from a nearby site; many of the beer's ingredients, such as molle berries, are drought resistant; and though alcoholic, the beer only kept for about a week.

These details suggest that Cerro Baúl maintained a steady supply of chicha, limited by neither trade nor fair weather, and became a central hub for anyone wishing to partake. The Wari would likely make such trips during times of festivals and religious ceremonies. Social elites would consume chicha in vessels shaped like Wari gods and leaders as part of rituals attesting to social norms and a shared cultural mythology and heritage.

"People would have come into this site, in these festive moments, in order to recreate and reaffirm their affiliation with these Wari lords and maybe bring tribute and pledge loyalty to the Wari state," Ryan Williams, lead author and head of anthropology at the Field Museum, said in a release. "We think these institutions of brewing and then serving the beer really formed a unity among these populations. It kept people together."

The Wari civilization was spread over a vast area of rain forests and highlands. In a time when news traveled at the speed of a llama, such distinct and distant geography could easily have fractured the Wari civilization into competing locales.

Instead, the researchers argue, these festive gatherings (aided by the promise of beer) strengthened social capital enough to maintain a healthy national unity. This helped the Wari civilization last from 600 to 1100 CE, an impressive run for a historic civilization.

Bringing people together (since 10,000 BCE)

A Mesopotamian cylinder seal shows people drinking beer through long reed straws. Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Of course, the Wari weren't the first civilization to use beer to reaffirm bonds and maintain their social fabric. Returning to the Fertile Crescent, Sumerians regarded beer as a hallmark of their civilization.

The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh tells of the adventures of the titular hero and his friend Enkidu. Enkidu beings as a savage living in the wilderness, but a young woman introduces him to the ways of civilization. That orientation begins with food and beer:

"They placed food in front of him,
They placed beer in front of him,
Enkidu knew nothing about eating bread for food,
And of drinking beer he had not been taught.
The young woman spoke Enkidu, saying:
"Eat the food, Enkidu, it is the way one lives.
Drink the beer, as is the custom of the land."
Enkidu ate the food until he was sated,
He drank the beer — seven jugs! — and became expansive
and sang with joy.
He was elated and his face glowed.
He splashed his shaggy body with water
and rubbed himself with oil, and turned into a human
."

Tom Standage, who recounts this scene in his History of the World in 6 Glasses, writes: "The Mesopotamians regarded the consumption of bread and beer as one of the things that distinguished them from savages and made them fully human." Such civilized staples not only demarcated their orderly life from that of hunter-gatherers, they also served a key role in their culture's unifying mythology.

Furthermore, Standage notes, Sumerian iconography often shows two people sipping from waist-high jars through reed straws. The earliest beers were consumed in a similar fashion because technological limitations prevented baking individual cups or filtering the beverage. But the Sumerians had the pottery skills to make such cups and filter the dregs. That they kept the tradition suggests that they valued the camaraderie brought by the experience, a sign of communal hospitality and kinship.

The ancient Greek's similarly used alcohol as a means of maintaining social and political relationships — though their drink of choice was wine.

During symposiums, upper-class Greek men would gather for a night of drinking, entertainment, and social bonding. In Alcohol: A history, Rod Phillips notes that symposiums were serious affairs where art, politics, and philosophy were discussed throughout the night and could serve as rites of passage for young men. (Though, music, drinking games, and sex with prostitutes may also be found on the itinerary.)

Of course, we can amass social capital without resorting to alcohol, which has been known to damage social relationships as much as improve them.

In the 17th century, London's coffeehouses stimulated the minds of thinkers with their caffeine-laden drinks, but also served as social hubs. Unlike the examples we've explored already, these coffeehouses brought together people of different backgrounds and expertise, unifying them in their pursuit of ideas and truths. Thus, coffeehouses can be seen as the nurseries of the Enlightenment.

Relearning ancient lessons

The Field Museum archaeologists hope their research can help remind us the importance social institutions and cultural practices have in creating our common bonds, whether such institutions are BYOB or not.

"This research is important because it helps us understand how institutions create the binds that tie together people from very diverse constituencies and very different backgrounds," Williams said. "Without them, large political entities begin to fragment and break up into much smaller things. Brexit is an example of this fragmentation in the European Union today. We need to understand the social constructs that underpin these unifying features if we want to be able to maintain political unity in society."

So, grab a beer or coffee or tea, spend some time together, and raise a glass. Just try not focus too much on whether your friend ordered Budweiser's swill or an overpriced, virtue-signaling microbrew IPA.

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