The division of household labor
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The Division of Household Labor. Family Sociology. Why study the division of household labor?. Research on housework has implications for gender inequality in both the work and family spheres Good example of the inter-relationship between two social institutions, the economy and families

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The Division of Household Labor

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The division of household labor

The Division of Household Labor

Family Sociology


Why study the division of household labor

Why study the division of household labor?

  • Research on housework has implications for gender inequality in both the work and family spheres

    • Good example of the inter-relationship between two social institutions, the economy and families

  • Research on housework also highlights the interplay between the micro and macro levels

  • Study of housework shows how gender is socially constructed


Why study the division of household labor1

Why study the division of household labor?

Unequal social change:

Major change in one social institution

-- the economy -- increase in the percentage of married women and mothers in the labor force

is not met by similar change in

-- families -- in the amount of household labor performed by married men/fathers


Why study the division of household labor2

Why study the division of household labor?

Unequal social change:

  • In other words – married women and mothers have taken on more paid work responsibility but still devote more time to unpaid family work

  • While men have not “taken up the slack” at home in equal amounts of time or responsibility


Division of household labor

Division of Household Labor

  • Today we’ll examine the time spent on housework

  • By wives and husbands

  • By teen girls and boys


Division of household labor1

Division of Household Labor

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports:

  • 6 in 10 women over age 16 were in the paid labor force

  • 61 % of mothers with children under age 3 are in the paid labor force


Labor force participation rates for married women by age of youngest child

Ages 6 - 17

Under age 6

Labor Force participation rates for married women, by age of youngest child

Ages 6-17

Under Age 6


Has women s labor force participation slowed

Has Women’s Labor Force Participation Slowed?

  • Recent article in the NY Times states “Stretched to the Limit, Women Stall March to Work”

  • Argument is that without more help with housework, working mothers have “hit a wall”

  • The increase in women’s labor force participation has helped fuel economic growth

  • Source: New York Times, 3/2/2006


Paid labor force participation

Paid Labor Force Participation

  • So today about 75 percent of women ages 25-54 are in the paid labor force or actively seeking work

  • Up from 40 percent in the late 1950s

  • This trend flattened in the 1990s

  • Since 2000 the labor force participation rate has declined somewhat

  • Source: New York Times, 3/2/2006


Unpaid work the good news

Unpaid work: The good news

  • According to a survey by John Robinson

  • From 1965 to 1985 the time men spent on household labor doubled from 4.6 hours per week to 10 hours per week

  • Over the same period, women reduced their time spent in housework from 27 hours to 20 hours


Unpaid work the bad news

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • It appears men are doing a larger proportion of housework and child care, but much of this change was due to women reducing their time on housework

  • Numerous studies based on different data sources show wives still perform about 2/3 of housework, even when they work full-time


Unpaid work the bad news1

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • Data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) collected from 6,882 husbands and wives on hours spent on 9 household chores


Mean number of hours spent on 9 household tasks per week by dual earner spouses

Mean Number of Hours Spent on 9 Household Tasks per Week by Dual-Earner Spouses

Source: NSFH, 1993


Household chores and gender

Household Chores and Gender

What do you notice about the chart?

Who spends more time on chores?

Who does more of the chores?

And remember these are couples who BOTH have paid jobs


Unpaid work the bad news2

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • Wives do a greater number of tasks than husbands

  • And they spend more time on housework

  • On average, dual-earner wives spent 32 hours each week on 9 household tasks

  • Dual-earner husbands spent only 19hours per week on same tasks


Unpaid work the bad news3

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • These same wives spent on average 40 hours per week in paid labor

  • While, husbands spent 44 hours per week in paid labor

  • In sum, wives spent a total of 72 hours per week in paid and unpaid labor, while husbands spent 63 hours in paid and unpaid labor combined


Unpaid work the bad news4

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • In other words, dual-earner wives spent 9 more hours per week working than their husbands

  • This adds up to 36 hours per month

  • Arlie Hochschild calls wives’ extra work the “Second Shift”


Unpaid work the worse news

Unpaid work: The worse news

  • Given significant changes in women’s lives:

    1) Higher labor force participation rates

    2) Changing attitudes toward more gender equality

    3) Greater educational opportunities for girls…

    we might expect less gendered division of housework among children?


Youth time use

Youth Time Use

In the next chart, I show findings from my research on household labor participation by high school students

These data are from the Youth Development Survey

They interviewed all 9th grade high school students in the St. Paul MN school system, and then followed them through h.s. and beyond


Weekly hours spent by teens on household tasks grades 9 12

Weekly hours Spent by Teens on Household Tasks, Grades 9 & 12


Mean hours spent on selected activities grade 9

Mean Hours Spent on Selected Activities – Grade 9

Source: Youth Development Survey


Unpaid work the worse news1

Unpaid work: The worse news

  • In ninth grade, girls spend more time on paid work, homework, and housework than boys

  • Boys spend more time on extra-curricular activities across high school

  • Teen girls are already learning to multi-task by ninth grade

  • Girls and boys are growing up to expect a gendered and unfair division of labor


Unpaid work the bad news5

Unpaid work: The bad news

  • At the same time, NSFH data also show that:

  • 90 percent of wives and 81 percent of husbands agree with the question “If couples work full-time should they share household tasks equally?”

  • 72 percent of dual-earner husbands and 66 percent of dual-earner wives say the division of household labor is fair to both spouses

  • But we just saw that they don’t divide the housework equally!

  • What explains these conflicting data?


Wives husbands perceptions of fairness of the division of household labor

Wives' & Husbands' Perceptions of Fairness of the Division of Household Labor


Why do couples say things should be equal

Why do couples say things should be equal?

  • My research shows that women compare their division of labor to other women they know i.e. sisters, friends, co-workers

  • Most of these women also do more housework, so by comparison, things don’t seem unfair

  • If they compared themselves to their husbands, then they might say “hey this isn’t fair!” (Gager, 1998)

  • Couples I interviewed also made justifications like men just cannot do laundry or women are not good at mowing the lawn?

  • Really – is a washer and dryer so hard to use?


Sex and housework link

Sex and Housework Link

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704500604574485351638147312.html

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/shows/lxnewyork/Does_the_Couple_That_Cleans_Together_Stay_Together__All__National_.html


The second shift

The Second Shift

  • Arlie Hochschild reviews data on the division of household labor

  • Shows that women are working a “second shift” of housework, after they work at their paid job

  • She also talks about how wives compare themselves to other women – not to their own husbands


The second shift1

The Second Shift

What is the stalled revolution?

  • Unequal social change

  • Women have been steadily moving toward equality in paid work

  • BUT

  • Men are not moving as quickly toward doing equal amount of housework/child care in the home


The second shift2

The Second Shift

  • Joey’s Problem: Nancy & Evan Holt

  • How did you answer the questions for Assignment 8?

  • Hochschild describes the family myths used by couple Nancy and Evan Holt

  • In other words, she tells the story they make up about their division of labor but what is the real story according to Hochschild?


The second shift3

The Second Shift

  • Joey’s Problem: Nancy & Evan Holt

  • See Assignment 8?

  • 1. According to Hochshcild, what is the “Second Shift?”

  • 2. Briefly describe the story of Evan and Nancy Holt.

  • 3. Hochschild argues that families create “myths” about their division of household labor. Describe the family myth created by Nancy and Evan Holt.


The second shift4

The Second Shift

  • Joey’s Problem: Nancy & Evan Holt

  • Assignment 8?

  • 4. According to Hochschild, what is the purpose of family myths?

  • 5. Was this reading surprising to you and why? How do you imagine you will divide family work (including child care) in your own marriage or cohabitation?


Families and unpaid work where do we go from here

Families and unpaid work: Where do we go from here?

  • Summary

  • Girls and women perform more household labor than their male peers – even when they work full-time

  • Hochschild calls this the “Second Shift”

  • If women and girls continue to do more unpaid labor, will we see real change in gender inequality at the macro and micro levels?

  • If we do not close the gender gap at home, can we close the gender gap at work?


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