Gender Norms Update: New Research Shows Progress… Except When It Comes to Who Should Do Household Chores

Every time I see a news article about gender equality from any publication, I get legitimately excited. Even if it’s not a particularly positive article, I feel hopeful that the more we talk about this issue, the more we can affect change… slowly but surely. Needless to say, seeing a headline from the New York Times is pretty much the Holy Grail, so I dropped what I was doing and started to read it immediately.

Here is the key segment of the article:

new survey from Gallup found that among opposite-sex couples, those ages 18 to 34 were no more likely than older couples to divide most household chores equitably. And a sociology study published last month found that when high school seniors were asked about their ideal family arrangement with young children, almost a quarter said it was for the man to work full time and the woman to stay home, a larger share than desired any other arrangement.

The fact that home life doesn’t look all that different from half a century ago surprises researchers, because in most other ways, attitudes about gender roles have changed a lot. There’s now almost universal support for women to pursue careers or political office. Women get more education than men. And young people are much more accepting of people not identifying as either a man or a woman.

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. But 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 women’s 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.

“Young Men Embrace Gender Equality, but They Still Don’t Vacuum” by Claire Cain Miller for the New York Times

If I step back and put myself in the shoes of these men, I can understand why this has happened. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a two-income household? More money is rarely a bad thing. Therefore, I can see how the career side of equality is much easier to accept than the part where men actually have to change their actions and behaviors.

But I would ask men to step back and put themselves in the working mom’s shoes, too. Because most working moms are doing everything you’re doing… and a whole lot more. You had a hard day at work and don’t feel like doing anything but watching TV with a cold one? SAME, BUDDY. SAME.

But here’s the thing. You have kids. And they aren’t just your wife’s responsibility. As the author of this important NYT piece said, “Making relationships more equal inside the home could have far-reaching effects outside of it, too.”

Drop a line below if you’d like to discuss further. I’d love to hear from you!


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