Just another Blogs@VT Sites site
RSS icon Email icon
  • #5 Housework Gender Gaps Still Exist

    Posted on March 30th, 2020 amturne3 No comments

    Working from home with my husband and our 3 kids has been pretty eye opening over the last 3 weeks.  Prior to this, I would have probably said the household chores are probably split 60 % me and 40% him.  Yes, I know that’s still not fair but that was reality and he did the chores I hate doing and I did the ones he hates doing plus I was the one always on the hook for transferring kids to activities and doctor appointments since my job is a bit more flexible than his.   Now that we’re home, I’m now finding myself doing 100% of the chores and wondering how the hell that happened in such a short span!   Is it my personality that I cannot work around chaos and mess that drives me to take on the role of doing everything now that I’m forced to work from home? Am I just not allowing him to do his share?  Is he just letting it go knowing I will get fed up and just do it.  (Even the stuff I hate doing!)  Is he just being lazy?  Am I overthinking this?

    (Picture from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/upshot/gender-roles-housework.html)

    With the kids now home as well, it has become even more difficult.   I am stuck doing my work in the living room with CONSTANT interruptions from an 8-year-old who needs a lot of help doing her worksheets that were mailed to her by the school.  Meanwhile, my husband has set up a quiet, uninterrupted workspace in the basement and I don’t see him until he comes upstairs asking what’s for dinner.

    I know I should speak up but I also know that pointing out the differences in our days does no good and he either gets defensive about how more important his work is than mine (it is not!) or claims he’s helping out more than I give him credit for (which we both know isn’t true).   I also find myself cursing at his mother in my head for putting me in this situation and then realize she was the only female in a house of 3 males and was probably in the same boat as me 30 years ago!   As I feel like I’ve suddenly taken on more and more the last 3 weeks I’m sitting her wondering how did this happen?  I know I am not alone in this and sadly, our patriarchy American society still thinks women should do the bulk of the housework regardless of how much time we also work full time jobs, or how much money we make, or the fact that children happened from both of us equally!

    As the HuffPost points out in this article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chores-by-gender-women_n_57be3226e4b02673444e5a87  Research has shown that gender matters way more than income does and it is not necessarily true that the lower-earning partners are doing more housework than higher-earning partners.  Participants in the study they sited often assigned women more chores even if they earned more than the male counterpart.  If the partner had a lower-income than the other partner, males were expected to do fewer chores and childcare than the women.  Interestingly enough, this carries over into even same-sex couples where roles were often assigned to stereotypical gendered behavior (i.e. enjoys sports vs. enjoys baking)

    While the division of chores is arguably much better than it used to be during the baby boomer’s adult lives. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics still shows that not a lot has changed for the Gen X and Millennials who are now parents.

    Household Activities in 2018 (from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm)

    • On an average day, 84 percent of women and 69 percent of men spent some time doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or household management.
    • On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on these activities, while men spent 2.0 hours.
    • On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or laundry–compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women–11 percent, compared with 7 percent.
    • From 2003 to 2018, the share of men doing food preparation and cleanup on an average day increased from 35 percent to 46 percent.

    Care of Household Children for the period 2014-18 (from: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm)

    • Adults living in households with children under age 6 spent an average of 2.1 hours per day providing primary childcare to household children. Adults living in households where the youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 17 spent less than half as much time providing primary childcare to household children–50 minutes per day. Primary childcare is childcare that is done as a main activity, such as providing physical care or reading to children.
    • On an average day, among adults living in households with children under age 6, women spent 1.1 hours providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 26 minutes providing physical care.
    • Among adults living with children under age 6, those who were not employed spent over an hour more per day caring for and helping household children than did employed adults–2.8 hours versus 1.7 hours.
    • Adults living in households with at least one child under age 6 spent an average of 5.4 hours per day providing secondary childcare–that is, they had at least one child in their care while doing activities other than primary childcare. Secondary childcare provided by adults living in households with children under age 6 was most commonly provided while doing leisure activities (2.0 hours) or household activities (1.4 hours).
    • Adults living in households with children under age 6 spent more time providing primary childcare on an average weekday (2.2 hours) than on an average weekend day (2.0 hours). However, they spent less time providing secondary childcare on weekdays than on weekend days–4.4 hours, compared with 7.6 hours.

    This all day workday may have harmful consequences to women’s health and for those who work 60+ hour weeks the risk is even higher!  This is not the only consequence.  According to the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/upshot/gender-roles-housework.html, the disparity in house workload is one of the leading causes of the gender gaps in pay and promotion!  Even though as pointed out earlier that younger men now do more than older men, the difference in how much more they do is very little!

    So why is it that our society still expects women to do the majority of the housework?   Some researchers think that men may be happier to have a partner bring in another paycheck but no happier about doing more chores.  This may come from our own parenting styles in which parents may have fewer expectations of sons to do chores as they do of daughters.   This may also tie into the fact that our society puts gender norms on what is considered feminine vs. masculine activities as well as employment.   This could also come from the fact that women are judged more how their house looks or how their children are taken care of than men are.   Let’s face it, people would feel sorry for a single dad and allow him more excuses for a messy house and out of control children because those poor kids and that poor man doesn’t have a woman to help him!   Tell me I’m wrong? haha

    (Click on graph to see it bigger)

    Beware men!   According to Hecht Family Law (https://www.hechtfamilylaw.com/blog/2018/04/conflict-over-household-chores-causes-some-divorces.shtml) a quarter of divorced couples listed household chores as the top reason behind their separations.  No wonder depression is more prevalent in women! We’re tired!

    I don’t mean to make it sound like my husband is being a jerk right now and I’m sure he’s not even aware that I’ve suddenly taken on much more these chores the last few weeks.   I know that all I need to say is “Hey! Can you do the dishes while I do the laundry?”  But it’s the fact I have to ask that annoys me so for the couple of guys in this class, just keep this in mind in the future and don’t wait to be asked to help with household/child chores.  Just help us women out!


    10 responses to “#5 Housework Gender Gaps Still Exist” RSS icon

    • GURL! I hear you! So we won’t go on a husband bashing parade right now but I’m constantly hard on my husband about helping out. This is why I’m constantly getting the “you’re so lucky” or “she’s trained you so well!” comments from our family and friends. I have high expectations, and my husband knows it. However, as I sit here and write this he just came and interrupted to tell me he had fed the lambs, made the kids a snack and ask me what I’d like to eat now! Bless him, right?

      But let me roll this back a few years since we started dating ten years ago, I’ve done my best to be a good communicator. He, however, has really detailed conversations in his head. Either way, when I want something done, I tell him about it. He tells me that his threshold for household tasks just aren’t as low as mine. Since he’s come to understand the anxiety it causes me he has gotten better about it and we have more of a routine. Laundry on Saturdays and how long I can stand dishes to sit in the sink. I have also lowered my threshold admittedly.

      Now one thing that has changed drastically right before this quarantine was that my husband was laid off in January. Since I was just starting classes and still working in January this was a big adjustment for our family. It was quite shocking for me, but it was like he was on a vacation for him! Once I got over the initial shock, I told him “you had better believe I’m not touching a single dish, cooking a solitary meal or washing a stitch of laundry while you’re out of work, bud!” And I didn’t. He kept it all going. He did that, got the girls in bed, woke up out of his stooper of depression and anxiety from a job he hated and was able to get back into the farm work he loved so much. Since the quarantine, he’s been able to get back into the farm work even more and everything has slacked off. I can hardly keep up with any housework while running after these kids, I was trying to work and then caught the flu and he’s out trying to finish fences before too much of the hay comes on with the early spring comes.

      Now I might have already harped on this once in one of my blogs. It is all about expectations, my friend! You have to set clear expectations with not only your husband but your kids as well! My grandmother always says I’m lucky that my husband is so helpful and good with the kids, but I tell her that it’s because I expect it of him and he knows it! The men of the 1950s weren’t expected to take care of their kids and weren’t expected to do house chores, so they didn’t. Now Generation Z and Millenials are expecting more of their relationships and we’re getting more. It’s not equal, obviously, by your research you’ve presented, but we’re getting somewhere.

    • Awesome post! Thanks you for sharing your experiences. WOrking from home made me just see all the chores at home and they freak me out! As a procrastinator, I found myself doing all the unnecessary stuff and not working properly at all. I have a boyfriend and during this pandemic we mostly stay together. He says he will cook for me and he never cooks. Why? Becuase I never give him space or time to do it. He comes home and boom! the dinner is ready. We finally sat down and talked about this. I am feeling lucky like your grandma because he has a great point of view. He says he grew up seeing his mother keeps cooking, cleaning, providing every needs of people in the household and she was still going to work so he has been seeing how much that ruined her health and also social life and position in his family. So he literally asked me not to touch his laundry, let him cook so we should change our dinner time,let him clean the house. To be honest, from my previous experiences I never heard things like that from my ex boyfriend. It was like I was providing more and more and he was not complaining or asking to help. Now, we do the things together or I let him do his own laundry, cook for us sometimes etc. I can tell stay home order really freaked me out and I was doing everything in details like even preparing his lunch bag for the next day. He made me realize I am doing too much and maybe missing some time to work or study harder. We got used to sotay home order and I think doing better now. I hope you and your family are healthy and safe also!

    • Samantha Mahdu

      Blog #5, Comment #1

      Oh girl, this was me for blog number 4! Living in a household with a man that barely does any housework and a mother-in-law that supports and allows him to get away with this, I felt every word of this blog. Whenever this topic area comes up, I always think of a commercial from the early 1980’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA4DR4vEgrs The song goes something like this, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and make him feel like a man.” I remember seeing that when I was younger and thinking, yeah, girls can do it all. Now that I am grown, I’m like f-this, make him cook the damn meal. HAHA! During this pandemic, with us all stuck at home, it has been super annoying that when I am in a meeting or giving a training, everyone still comes to me asking what I plan to make for lunch and dinner. I finally lost it and announced that each one of us would have to plan and make the meals for the day. Oh, my husband was pissed and tried to lay guilt my way. I have to be honest, I almost caved because I really don’t enjoy being an ass, but then I thought – he doesn’t feel sorry when he expects me to do all the work, so I’m going to treat him the same way. Suffice to say, it was an interesting experience. I refused to take the bait and completely acted nonchalant about the whole thing. Interestingly enough, he now doesn’t complain (as much) about having to make the meals. We will call this baby steps!



    • I actually liked this post so much I shared it with my boyfriend who is moving in with me this fall and told him to study it because so that we are aware and vigilant in not letting the balance tip continuously to one side of the other. Growing up, my mom had fun little chore charts for my brother and I pretty much the moment we could walk (or at least that is what it felt like and hopefully the sarcasm is coming through for the word fun in this sentence). She would split the work up so we each had the same number of chores and then would switch them up so we each had to do all of the different chores at some point. Moral of the story was that while I was brought up with the thought that men and women should do equal parts in the household and especially vital for both partners to have equal chores that is not always the what happens even with best intentions. I was shocked with the actual stats shown in your post. I always just thought that as time went on and household stereotypes and roles adapted so would these kinds of things, but as we all know nothing comes that easily. It is interesting how it does not matter how much income each partner brings in as I would think that would play some kind of role (even though it should not). I would also be interested to see this study done in ‘non-traditional’ family households.

    • Blog #5 Comment #1
      I really liked this blog and it was interesting to see some statistics that go along with the frustration I feel all of the time. I live with six men and all of them other than my boyfriend act like cleaning is this foreign thing that just magically gets done. I’m not sure if they really can’t see mold and filth that they let build up or if they are just too lazy to do anything about it, but it drives me crazy that they won’t act on it. Their parents probably didn’t push them to clean while they were younger, so they are used to someone else doing everything for them. In the three years some of them have lived in this apartment, the most cleaning one of them has ever done was taking out the trash every once and awhile and doing the small number of dishes he makes. With this many people living in a place it gets dirty rather quickly and I have taken to just ignoring some of the messes or else I would go insane cleaning every day. Thankfully, I’ll be living with less people next year and they are much better about basic household upkeep and I’m really looking forward to it. My boyfriend and I have had many conversations about how we want to split up chores and for the most part he is really good at doing his part and if he forgets to do something I just have to remind him and he’ll act on it relatively quickly.

      • I too lived with 3 other guys in an apartment when I was in undergrad so I know what you mean!

        One guy roommate in particular had never done any housework his entire life and I remember how we got into a fight when he first moved in and he told me the kitchen needed to be cleaned so he could cook his dinner. I was furious and told him to clean it himself or get the other roommate who made the mess to and that I’m not his maid nor did I make that mess (the other male roommate had)! Of course that friction had been building up for a while by then. Earlier I had to show him how to use the washing machine/dryer and he made comments like, can’t you to do it when you do yours? That’d be easier! Oy. I was dating my husband at the time (though he lived in another apartment nearby). He knew how mad that roommate made me and he does help out some though not as much as I would like. Thankfully my entitled roommate decided to move back home after a semester much to my delight!

    • savannahspeckhart

      Blog #5; Comment #3

      Ugh. I am sorry that this is your current situation. I do not have a husband nor children so I cannot relate since I do all housework since I live alone but then again, I have no children that take up my time. Although, it seems what is happening in your family is somewhat similar to as when I was growing up and still living at home with the parents. My mom always cooked, mostly did the dishes (or it was I haha), did majority of the household cleaning with some help from me. On the other hand, my dad was always the outside chore guy. He did majority of the lawn mowing and all of the weed eating. But that is because he enjoys that type of work. We also have a small cow/calf herd, which my dad takes care of. That is his ‘thing’. So I don’t think his outside chores really bother him, he more so enjoys it. While on the other hand, I am sure my mom doesn’t enjoy always doing the household chores. Now I will admit, it seems like later in life (my early to mid 20s), my dad is helping more when it comes to cooking and dishes. He still rarely cooks, but will if he beats my mother home from work now and then. In addition, when I have gone home for a couple weeks over Christmas, I notice him doing dishes after a meal more so it makes me happy to see. But I don’t think in my entire 25 years of life have I seen my dad vacuum any room in the house haha. Interestingly enough, my mom is more on the OCD side, so sometimes I think vacuuming and seeing the lines it makes in the carpet can be therapeutic for her. Go figure. But I am not surprised that a quarter or so of divorces are a result of fighting over household chores. Honestly, it seems like that is the main reason if I ever do see my parents fight. It would just be so much easier if everyone chipped in 50/50. I am hoping your husband will have that realization very soon!

    • Blog #5 response #1
      My husband and I just had an argument about this topic last week. I was doing a lot and have always been expected to do most of the household chores growing up and I was getting tired of doing it everyday of this quarantine. I explained to him some of the points you talked about. As a kid, I was always expected to do the chores while my brother had to do 1 chore to every 6 chores I had. My dad basically never did any chores besides cutting the lawn. Now that I am out of the house, he has taken up cooking dinner (something I used to do for my family) and keeping the house pretty clean. Maybe that will give you hope for the future when your kids are all grown up? I agree that there are societal expectations that are true for women but not men, especially keeping the house tidy and kids well-behaved. If we are having visitors, I find myself freaking out about how I need to tidy up because I don’t want to get judged about it. Especially during the semester when I have exams or a lot of homework and I don’t have time during the week to spend a lot of time keeping up with the dishes or laundry. When I saw that Chore Wars picture I laughed so much because essentially the dads have 3 chores that are expected and 2 of the are trash related. Society’s view on how a household should be makes me beyond angry because like you said, children are made by equal parts, so I do not understand why the children are always the mom’s responsibility. I get that back in the day the wife stayed home and took care of the household because they weren’t allowed to be educated or work, but now things are totally different.

    • Blog #5, Comment #4
      Good blog, thanks for sharing. Housework gender gaps are serious issues. I think this problem is worse in my country. the majority of domestic tasks in Saudi families still fall on the women. Women are responsible of doing all housework (shopping, cleaning, cooking, childcare, laundry) on a day-to-day basis. The other problem is not just men, but many women believe that doing household chores is the duty of them and their daughters. For example, my mother usually advises me to be tidy in my home when I get married especially in front of mother-in-law. In fact, even though some women have careers, still find themselves to be in-charge of housekeeping. Husbands particularly old husbands do not do their share of work around the house, which make the stress level in homes increased extremely. It is unfair that in most marriages in our country, the assigning of duties is very clear that women must be entirely responsible of household chores. In my case back in my country, my mother has a housekeeper to help her for cleaning our home such as cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming carpet, changing bed linens, ironing, etc. However, my dad pays the housekeeper monthly salary. In my opinion, household chores must be shared as a responsibility and not dumped on someone because of their gender. So, women need to speak up and even make their position clear before getting married. Because we deserve a husband and a family who are willing to love and help us, it is not about making our responsibility is to clean a dirty house lonely.

    • Nice blog posts. As a male, I have learned a lot about how we can be more supportive in housekeeping from reading this blog and other posts in the class. Although I am not married, I know so well that women are more likely to do housework than men and spend more time on household activities. My parents did their best to make sure that my siblings and I participate in household chores. They did not delegate task based on our sexes, so my brothers (2 of them) and sisters (3 of them) can basically do all kinds of household chores including cooking, doing the laundry, washing of dishes, cleaning the home etc. However, because I am the last of six children, I was spared of some of the household chores like cooking. I started washing dishes and doing my laundry before I was 10 but never had the opportunity to learn how to cook until I got into college because my mum and my older siblings did the cooking. When I got into college, I would go home every weekend to get some home-made food prepared by my mum (my college was in the same city as my home). However, this stopped one weekend when my mum became angry with me. She got angry because she asked me to keep an eye on the food on fire she was preparing as she was busy with some another task. I forgot what she asked me to do and almost burnt down our kitchen. As a result, she became mad at me and told me she would stop preparing me food to take to campus (because she felt she has raised a spoiled child). And that was it, she meant what she said! Since I didn’t have so much money to buy food in restaurants on campus, I had to learn how to cook in my first year in college. While it was difficult at first, I have since become very good in cooking. I am hopeful that I will be very supportive of my wife (when I get married, LOL) in doing the household chores.

    Leave a reply