Remember how we all said, “See? I told you so!” about the recent study suggesting that fights over the dishes lead to unhappy relationships and even divorce? After all, domestic chores ARE a big deal — and women everywhere are totally done being the default housekeepers.
Well, now you can breathe a sigh of relief, because two new studies show that attitudes are changing for the better. Somewhat.
A group of researchers at the Council of Contemporary Families has released two impressive and fascinating studies showing that men from the Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial generations are pitching in more around the house and helping with raising children than ever before. Not only that, but the studies suggest a trend toward gender egalitarianism in the near future.
The first of the two studies, Patterns of Progress? Changes in Gender Ideology 1977-2016, looked at how women fit into the home and the workplace by charting responses to different questions from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Respondents were asked about how well-suited women or men are for politics, if moms who choose to work are hurting their kids, and if men and women should split domestic duties based on traditional breadwinner/housekeeper types of roles.
According to the study, the trend toward gender equality was on a relatively smooth path from the 1970s to the 1990s — but then something changed. Between the 1990s and the early 2000s, egalitarian views shifted once again and, according to this research, even reversed. Since then, however, there have been several socio-political changes that have catapulted the responses back toward gender equality.
I’m going to count myself as incredibly lucky that I married a man who is a self-identified feminist. While he may not be that great at helping me get the dishes done or the laundry put away, he is absolutely passionately involved in raising our children on equal footing to me. He does as much of the shopping, playing, and appointment booking and chauffeuring as I do.
The second study looked specifically at gender roles in housework and found some rather inspiring discoveries. Men are starting to do the damn dishes more. Hallelujah!
The study, Not All Housework is Created Equal: Particular Housework Tasks and Couples’ Relationship Quality, noted that even though the #metoo movement has uncovered incredible examples of abuses of power and a pattern of patriarchy, misogyny, and sexual abuses in politics and the workplace, the researchers still wanted to know what is happening behind closed doors at home.
They found that men are doing a little bit more housework these days — on average four hours a week — which is up from a piddly two hours a week back in 1965. Those four hours of help around the house, though, are the same four as they were doing in 1995. (C’mon, men! You can toss in an extra load of laundry, for Pete’s sake!)
The study showed that married women are doing far less housework now (an average of 14.2 hours) compared to married women in 1965 (30.4 hours). So, while women’s work in the home has been cut in half, probably thanks in large part to technology making chores easier, men still aren’t pulling their weight in a truly gender-equal way.
So, there you have it, ladies. We have concrete evidence that while men are definitely getting their act together when it comes to treating us with some R-E-S-P-E-C-T in domestic life, they still have some work do.