The gender hobby gap - why do women have less time to themselves than men?

The gender hobby gap - why do women have less time to themselves than men?

Do you find yourself having less time to indulge in hobbies? Why is it that as we get older, we’re increasingly scared to try new things?

As someone who has an addictive personality, I’ve tried everything. Skateboarding, creating my own journal, reading, drawing, running, watching Korean dramas, K-pop, even watching gameplay because I wasn’t allowed to buy a console. However, the older I get the more I find myself slipping into a routine, one that means I have less time on my hands to enjoy things I once did.

As we age and gain more responsibility do our interests suffer a natural death, or are they unfairly squashed by the burden we carry as women?

It’s a girl thing

According to the Office of National Statistics, women are less likely to have a hobby because they spend more time on unpaid labour such as housework or childcare. In fact, the only thing that women spend more time on is socialising. This is an interesting find as scientifically, females find same sex social interactions more rewarding than men due to oxytocin sensitivity in the brain (I) Thus, socialising daily can be rewarding and help maintain a sense of self.

Another worrying find from these statistics is that most leisure time is spent consuming mass media, which is something I believe cannot be classified as a hobby. In fact, TV and social media can be addictive and contribute to negative perceptions of the self.

Mass media aside, women spend a significantly low amount of time engaging in fulfilling hobbies in their leisure time. Typically, male-dominated hobbies can also be intimidating for women to join as they may feel unwelcome or judged. Because of this, a gender divide between ‘male and female’ hobbies can keep women from partaking in new things.

Gender bias

Reddit threads highlight that some men believe women are less hobby-orientated than women, revealing the misogyny women face from the male community. One reddit user explains her reasons as to why female hobbies are devalued: (II).

I think one aspect is that many female hobbies are devalued, especially the ones associated with teen girls. The consequences to this devaluation are threefold

  1. Women and girls are less likely to talk about their hobbies (especially to men and older people)
  2. Women and girls' hobbies are not considered hobbies at all but rather “wastes of time” (think of a similar phenomenon which occurs when Boomers and above talk about video games).
  3. “Hobbies” which are seen as valuable are expected to be sources of unpaid labour for friends and family

This third point is something that I find particularly interesting. There is a notable gender gap between hobbies and professions. For example, cooking is seen as a predominantly ‘female task’ yet men dominate the chef industry. The same can be said with fashion: women and girls are exploited and underpaid when it comes to factory production, however high fashion leadership remains male-dominated (VI).

This bias against women and the demonisation of their interests is also targeted at teenage girls, with the mainstream medialargely contributing to this agenda. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Harry Styles was asked if he is worried about proving his credibility to his older fans due to his fanbase largely consisting of teenage girls. He replied:

“Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick” (III).

Whilst we commend Harry Styles for rebuking the interviewer’s prejudice, the unconscious bias that women face from a young age doesn’t go away as they get older; instead, it’s internalised. As a result, starting a new hobby can be even more intimidating and we may talk ourselves out of it by saying it’s a waste of time.

This idea stems from the toxic expectation that women must spend the majority of their free time on productive pursuits. Because of this, we’re more likely to skip out on ‘optional’ hobbies and partake in tasks that are considered more necessary, like cooking or investing time into professional development.

The truth is, having hobbies is something that is vital to our daily lives. Scientifically, having hobbies has been proven to reduce stress, improve physical health, and increase happiness (VI). Our interests also contribute to how we identify ourselves outside of labels we can’t opt out of.

BaMuse campaign

Here at Bamae, we want to inspire and encourage women to try new things and reignite their passions from when you were younger. That’s why we’re launching an 8-week campaign called BaMuse, a play on words of amuse/muse so that every woman can find their inspiration once more.

Over the course of the 8-weeks, our brand ambassadors will be trying new hobbies which we’ll be following along with on our YouTube and Tiktok. We’ll also be posting inspiring and motivational content on our Instagram which you can find here.

If you’re interested in the campaign then be sure to follow along and check out our content to get inspired! In the meantime, if you’re thinking about trying something new, why not give our article a read for some inspiration. 

Image sources

Image 1

Image 2