WORKING fathers want to spend less time at work and more time socialising, while working mothers want fewer hours so they can care for their children, data shows.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Gender Indicators report reveals the divide experts say highlights a continuing “social legacy” of dividing up unpaid work along gender lines.

The just-released data shows 37 per cent of employed men and 25 per cent of employed women would like to work fewer hours.

About a third of those men would spend the extra free time on socialising or recreation and about a quarter would spend time with their family but not carrying out childcare duties.

However the most common reason the women wanted to reduce their working hours was to care for children (42 per cent). Only 14 per cent of men prioritised childcare in that way.

The report also finds more mothers than fathers always or often feel rushed or pressed for time (55 per cent compared to 46 per cent).

UniSA Centre for Work+Life director Professor Barbara Pocock said surveys by the centre had found as much as 70 per cent of women felt always or almost always rushed for time.

“It shows the continuing disproportionate contribution to care work by men and women in our society,” she said.

“For a lot of men who do care (for children), their contribution to care has increased in the last two years, but a lot of it is Dad going to a soccer game with the kids. It’s not at home in full-time engaged care.”

Prof Pocock said there was a “long-term social legacy” of caring responsibilities falling to women, in Australia and internationally.

“It’s very slow to change,” she said.

“We should be helping fathers reduce their hours of work where they’re long and we should be really encouraging men through things like paid carer’s leave when a new baby arrives.”

Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation CEO Warwick Marsh agreed many mothers were “time poor” but said a growing number of fathers were choosing to become the stay-at-home parent.

“Fathers actually interact more with their children by playing with them … taking them to soccer or going to the football,” he said.

The ABS data found mothers spend an average eight and a half hours per day caring for children while fathers spend three hours and 55 minutes.

Men spend nearly twice as long as women on job-related activities but, in contrast, women do nearly double the amount of unpaid work.

Domestic activities such as cooking, pet care, cleaning and car maintenance take up eight minutes less per day for women now than in 1997 (2 hours and 53 minutes), while the time men spend on such duties has remained unchanged (one hour and 37 minutes).

Status for Women Minister Gail Gago said “broader social change” and greater workplace flexibility were needed “so that men and women share family responsibilities more equitably”.

“While many workplaces offer flexible arrangements, more effort in some workplaces is needed so women feel supported when flexibility is required,” she said.

Opposition Status of Women spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said women needed more role models to show how a career and family can be successfully balanced.

“There’s a lack of opportunity to get that information unless you’ve got a role model in your immediate family or workplace,” she said.

“The reality is that women are the category that is most affected by underemployment, the most vulnerable to casual employment.

“Women are still doing most of the housework, they’re under the most pressure.”

The Gender Indicators report also found:

ABOUT 13 per cent of employed women wanted to work more hours to earn more income, compared to 9 per cent of men.

MEN are spending 17 minutes more per day at work compared to 1997, while the working day is 19 minutes longer for women.

WORK and family responsibilities are rarely or never in balance for 16 per cent of men and 14.5 per cent of women.

ABOUT two-thirds of men and almost half of women say they are overweight or obese but both sexes admit they do very little, if any, exercise.

UP TO 15 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men report high or very high psychological distress levels.

WOMEN were more likely to suffer mood disorders such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, while men reported a higher rate of substance abuse disorders.