Gender Equality? Not when it comes to Housework

Even with the notion of equality between the sexes becoming more mainstream, certain traditional gender roles such as women doing housework are still persisting – and no amount of cleaning seems to be changing that.

Studies and analyses carried out in recent years have revealed how factors such as income and occupation affects the behaviour of married couples when it comes to doing housework.

One such study revealed how men who earn less than their wives do less housework; in another, it showed that men who work in female-dominated fields tend to do more “masculine” housework. The reverse also holds true for women who earn more – they do more housework than their husbands and women who work in male-dominated fields do more female-typed housework. Why, you ask? All in the name of masculinity.

It is speculated that men feel that their masculinity is threatened when their wives bring home more money, hence they compensate by doing less housework. Data from the American Time Use Survey even suggested that unemployed men do less household chores than working women.

Men in female-centric jobs such as nurses and childcare teachers may find themselves fixing things around the house and paying bills while women in male-centric jobs such as mechanics may spend more time on laundry, mopping and cooking. The paradox is apparent here – men and women who defy gender occupation stereotypes end up succumbing to them in the household. Sociologists call this phenomenon “neutralisation of gender deviance”.

“Female-typed housework” include cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

“Male-typed housework” include fixing things around the house and car-related chores

It is interesting to note, however, that a separate study found men in female-dominated professions do more (up to 25%) housework than a partner in a male-dominated job. The reverse effect is present for women too, albeit on a lesser scale. Women in female-centric jobs do 14% more housework than women in male-centric jobs. So, ladies, if you want a man to help you around the house, you know what to look out for 😉

by Violet Koh