High-earning Married Mothers Do More Housework Than Their Spouses, Study Reveals


Science News

Researchers at the University of Bath revealed the gender housework gap in dual-income couples by exploring how high-earning married mothers do more housework than their male spouses. The study is published in Work, Employment and Society.

The Study

The researchers studied more than 6,000 heterosexual North American married households. They differentiated married parents living under one roof from unmarried cohabiting parents. They also defined housework as “time spent cooking, cleaning, and doing other work around the house”.

The Findings

The results revealed that high-earning married women with children have a greater share in the domestic workload than their spouses who earn less than them.

Drawing Inferences

The researchers attribute this gender housework gap to the traditional household division of labor and conventional gender norms. Such traditionalizing approaches make it mandatory for mothers to take on a greater share of household chores to free their (higher) earning male partner so that they can focus on their work and financially maximize the household’s standard of living.

Rational economic theory predicts that parenthood, dual-income household structures, and time pressures would lead to a more equitable sharing of domestic workload. The ‘gender revolution’ of the 1960s and the 1970s also expected increased male participation in domestic workload as women’s employment increased. However, as the study proves, the traditional balance in the gender-specific division of labor hasn’t shifted even when women have entered the workforce with longer working hours and higher income.

Potential Consequences

The researchers are apprehensive that such gender differences in housework clash with the modern-day reality of working mothers. It is also liable to have drastic consequences in gender inequality, gender stereotypes, and marital disharmony.

One of the lead researchers, Dr Joanna Syrda, elaborated: [This] is a pattern [which] once settled upon is often difficult to renegotiate. And these norms may be passed [down through] children.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Syrda, J. (2022). Gendered Housework: Spousal Relative Income, Parenthood and Traditional Gender Identity Norms. Work, Employment and Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/09500170211069780

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