Working wives 'get little aid on chores'

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Women still do 75 per cent of the housework though many have full-time jobs, a study shows. On average, women spend 18.5 hours a week on chores and men six. Researchers from Oxford University say men take on few extra home duties even when wives or partners work long hours.

They looked at how 2,087 married or cohabiting couples shared domestic chores and found the time women spend at work has "only a minimal" impact on their responsibilities. But younger working women, those on high wages and those with degrees ensure home life is more egalitarian. They cut back on housework by up to two hours a week, although paid cleaners rather than their husbands are likely to fill the gap.

Man-yee Kan, the sociologist who led the study, said housework still appeared to be regarded as women's work. But more research was needed to see whether women were doing it willingly or whether men were shirking.

"Changes are occurring, but very slowly," she said. "High educational qualifications and relative youth, probably related to more egalitarian gender-role attitudes, lead to a reduction in the female partner's share of housework."

Ms Kan also said more than one in five female staff (22 per cent) said they were "completely satisfied" at work, compared with only 13 per cent of male workers. The researchers said the gap may be attrib-utable to lower job expectations among women.