Women still do majority of household chores, study finds

'Gender equality in divisions of work is rare and gender norms remain strong'

Sabrina Barr
Friday 26 July 2019 09:10 BST

Women are still doing the majority of housework when living with a male partner, a new study has found.

According to the analysis conducted by University College London (UCL) and published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, "gender norms remain strong" when it comes to household chores.

The researchers assessed data from more than 8,500 heterosexual couples who were interviewed for the UK Household Longitudinal Study between 2010 and 2011.

They discovered that women do approximately 16 hours of household chores every week, while men do closer to six.

Furthermore, women did the bulk of the domestic duties in 93 per cent of the couples analysed for the study.

When both individuals in the couples were in full-time employment, women were found to be five times more likely than men to spend at least 20 hours a week doing household chores.

The couples assessed for the study were split into eight separate groups depending on their professions.

These groups included couples who were both earning, couples where the men were the predominant earners and women did the majority of the housework, and more.

The authors of the study stated that two of the groups in particular could be considered "the most egalitarian" – the "female-earner group", which consisted of six per cent of the couples, and the "male domestic long hours" group, the one-per-cent of couples in which men spent long hours doing housework.

"The female-earner group was the only group in which men's contribution to the housework was similar to that of their partners, and this group had the highest proportion of women with educational qualifications higher than those of their partners," the researchers wrote.

While the men in the "male domestic long hours" group spent an average of 20 hours a week doing housework, just under two thirds of the women with whom the men were partnered still also did housework.

The researchers concluded that their study suggests that "gender equality in divisions of work" among modern couples in the UK is "rare", adding that "gender norms remain strong".

Professor Anne McMumm, lead researcher on the study, stated: "Changing attitudes around gender norms is one avenue for encouraging change in this area."

According to a study published in December, men who have school-age daughters are less likely to hold sexist views.

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The research, which was conducted by a team at the London School of Economics, explored how men's attitudes towards gender stereotypes evolve when raising a daughter through primary and secondary school education.

The authors of the study concluded that men become more aware of the challenges girls may experience as they grow up when they have daughters, a consequence which they describe as the "mighty girl" effect.

"They experience first-hand all the issues that [exist] in a female world and then that basically moderates their attitudes towards gender norms and they become closer to seeing the full picture from the female perspective," said Dr Joan Costa-i-Font, co-author of the study.

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