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More than half of today's busy women have time to read books, go to the movies and watch television -- every week.

That's not an April Fools' joke.

A marketing survey company questioned 500 women nationwide and reports that most of them, at least those who didn't have a couple of toddlers around the house, manage to eke out enough leisure time each week to entertain themselves.

Thirtysomethings and women with children between ages 2 and 5 (they may be the same) are the most deprived of leisure time. Fewer than half of the mothers claimed any "downtime" in their schedules, and just 50 percent of women from age 30 and 39 said they included entertainment in their schedules "several times a week."

In contrast, more than 60 percent of women between 18 and 29 or in their 40s and 50s were blessed with measurable leisure time.

This poll by EDK Associates, a New York City company that tracks women's lifestyles and buying patterns, contradicts the popular perception that women spend all their waking hours on work and family.

Some of them (21 percent) read books; some (12 percent) go to movies, but most (61 percent) engage in a social activity such as dining out or visiting or entertaining friends. At least that's what they say are a few of their favorite things.

It may not surprise you to learn that younger women fill their spare time with socializing while older women are happy to curl up with a good book. And romance novels are not the big sellers. These women prefer novels and mysteries. If you are making movies for them, stick with comedies.

The 20 percent of women who said they found time for fun and games only "once in a while" are in the lower income group. Most of those whose incomes topped $45,000 said they set aside time for entertainment several times a week.

People who track work and family issues have expressed concern that leisure time is disappearing, at least for young families. With 25 percent of the work force falling into the part-time and contingent workers category, men and women are forced to work two and three jobs to support themselves or their families, a situation that leaves little time for basic family functions, much less entertainment.

Full-time, two-career professionals don't fare a lot better. Priority Management Systems, a management consulting firm, reported in 1993 that on average, those couples spend 1.9 hours a day with their children, compared with 10 hours for work and commuting. When they have leisure time, they spend it with their children, which is not, according to some experts, exactly relaxing.

"Given the time and money pressures most women face, the real news is that so many are taking 'time out' for fun, so often," the EDK Forecast says. It doesn't go so far as to say women get enough leisure, and the preferences they express in this poll are what they would like to do if they had free time, not necessarily what they actually do.
Daryl Glenney and Susan Bryant will conduct the YWCA's third Institute for Public Leadership political skills workshop April 28-29 in the Franklin Street YW. One of the founders of the institute started in 1991, Ms. Glenney is a communications consultant and trainer specializing in public affairs campaigns and grass-roots advocacy. She is associated with the Campaign Works.

Ms. Bryant, of Research Strategy and Management, was campaign manager for Michael Flanagan, who unseated Dan Rostenkowski in a highly publicized House of Representatives race in Illinois in November, and is a former political director of the Republican Senatorial Committee.

Of the 121 women who participated in previous institutes, 20 have run for public office and 11 have won. Graduates include State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Howe, Buffalo Common Council Member Bonnie K. Lockwood, Family Court Judges Marjorie Mix and Sharon Townsend, and former Jamestown Mayor Carolyn Seymour. Other graduates have used their training to work on campaigns and fund-raising.

Registration is limited. Call 852-6120.
Volunteers still are needed in the Western New York program that is part of a massive women's health research project. According to Karen L. Falkner, recruitment coordinator for Western New York Vanguard Clinical Center at the University at Buffalo, 3,000 women are needed to meet the goals of the study, which is being conducted under the National Institutes of Health Women's Health Initiative.

She is recruiting post-menopausal women who are between ages 50 and 79. They will participate in clinical trials and observational studies testing the effects of diet and hormone replacement therapy on breast and colorectal cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. If you are interested, call 829-3128.

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