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Gender roles

American women still expected to do most chores, regardless of other work

By WITW Staff on August 31, 2016

According to a new study from Indiana University, most Americans still assign household chores along gender lines — even among couples where the woman is the primary or sole breadwinner.

Participants in the study were assigned a hypothetical couple and asked to allot eight household chores and four childcare tasks between them. While primary responsibility for cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, and childcare were assigned to whomever had a lower income about 55 percent of the time, the perceived femininity of each partner was found to be a stronger predictor of whether they would be assigned these classically “feminine” tasks.

Among same-sex couples, the perceived masculinity or femininity of the partners was a stronger predictor for gendered chore assignment than in straight couples — where wives associated with masculine attributes, such as liking sports, were more likely to be assigned “feminine” chores than a husband who baked was. Discipline and stay-at-home parenting were found not to be linked to gender, but the more feminine partner was still expected to be the one to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American households have been rapidly moving away from traditional gender roles when it comes to assigning household tasks. Men’s participation in food prep and cleanup increased from 35 to 43 percent between 2003 and 2015, and their time spent doing such activities increased from 16 minutes to 21 minutes. At the same time, the number of women doing housework on an average day decreased from 54 to 50 percent, and women saw their average time spent doing housework decline from 58 minutes to 52 minutes.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data left no question that women still handle the vast majority of housework. On an average day in 2015, 85 percent of women performed tasks such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial management — by contrast, only 67 percent of men performed such tasks daily.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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