Why do Women do Most of the Housework?

We’ve mentioned recently what sociology professor Renata Forste’s research says about the stalled revolution of the gendered division of housework, and about how we as a society tend to devalue such work. Her comments at a 2017 Cutler Lecture provide further illumination as to why women still do the lion’s share of housework,”

  • Relative resources: “According to this perspective, the more resources or power a person has in relation to his or her spouse,” said Forste, “the easier it should be to bargain one’s way out of routine housework.” Thus, if a man makes more money than his wife, the implicit (or explicit) agreement is that he should not have to do as much housework. However, research shows that, even when women are equal to men in terms of what they bring in, they do more housework.
  • Time availability: Since time is a resource, the amount of time spouses or partners work outside the home would seem to have a direct impact on their share of housework. It doesn’t have as much as an effect as one would think, though.
  • Awareness: Men are not always aware when it is necessary to do housework.

Forste encourages men and women to “view [housework as] regular maintenance, rather than women’s work, [which will] change how we share the load and how we think about it.”

To view the full lecture, click here

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