Gender Equality Starts With Chores Equality
Millennial men embrace gender equality, but not vacuuming
While some men embrace gender equality, they’re not holding their own with household chores. This issue can be fixed by educating children from their youngest age.
Home chores should be gender agnostic, and using a shared digital chore chart like Family Tasks helps building this habit and reference.
An in-depth article by Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times illustrates this point. This post is a summary of this article.
Surprisingly, young couples today are not that much more egalitarian in dividing household chores than they were three-quarters of a century ago.
Young people today have become much more open-minded about gender roles — it shows up in their attitudes about pronouns, politics and sports. But in one area, change has been minimal. They are holding onto traditional views about who does what at home.
A new survey from Gallup found that among opposite-sex couples, those 18 to 34 — basically, millennials and the oldest members of Gen Z — were no more likely than older couples to divide household chores equitably. And a sociology study published last month found that when high school seniors were asked about their ideal family arrangement, almost a quarter said it was for the man to work full time and the woman to tend to children, a larger share than desired any other arrangement.
Both new studies were based on surveys that have been repeated over time, and they show that women now do a little less housework and child care and men do a little more.
The key takeaway there is “a little.” A significant gap remains. Women spend about an hour more a day than men on housework, and an hour more on child care, other research shows.
The disparity affects other aspects of equality: The additional time women spend on domestic labor, particularly related to children, is a leading cause of the gender gaps in pay and promotions at work.
“If young people can’t even envision a model of what men’s time at home might look like, that’s evidence that our beliefs about gender are really strong and sticky,” said Joanna Pepin, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin and an author of the recently published study, with Brittany Dernberger, a sociology doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland. “That’s yet another thing that’s getting in the way of social change.”
Researchers have different ideas about why the division of labor at home has been so slow to change. One of the simplest explanations: Men might be happy to have a partner bringing in another paycheck, but not happy to do more chores.
Working mothers today spend as much time doing activities with their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s. At the same time, many jobs require longer, inflexible hours.
Norms about what men are supposed to do also have an effect, researchers say — starting in childhood, when boys do fewer chores than girls. Masculinity is strongly tied to earning an income and avoiding things that are considered feminine.
The Gallup surveys on housework were done in 2019, 2007 and 1996, of opposite-sex couples who were married or living together. The gender gap in many chores has shrunk slightly over that period, but for the most part, the share of respondents who say they share tasks equally has been flat.
In the most recent surveys, of 3,062 people, there was very little difference by age in who did the chores, whether the couples were in their 20s or 50s. Women were much more likely to do the bulk of indoor chores, like cooking and cleaning, and men were more likely to do outdoor chores, like yard work and car upkeep.
One area in which young couples were more likely to be equal than older couples was in daily child care, though women were still likely to do more of it.