Men Who Do Housework, and Men Who Don’t

If you’ve been following FHSS‘s blog for long, you’ve seen our posts about sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste and her research on the gendered division of housework. She gave the 2016 Cutler Lecture on this subject, her area of expertise. More and more women are joining the workforce (accounting for 46.8% of the U.S. labor force), which means that families are evolving to share responsibilities between parents. During her Cutler Lecture, Dr. Forste cited Arlie Hochschild’s book The Second Shift, which suggests that men who do housework…

  • have a strong male identity.
  • have a more holistic, nuanced notion of their role as fathers.
  • have wives who facilitate their involvement in household chores.
  • don’t work late hours at the office.
  • have learned not to view housework as women’s work.
  • have happier family lives.

And the media is catching up too. Marketers are beginning to target men in advertisements for cleaning products, Dr. Forste said, and today’s men “have a more elaborate notion of fathering than previous generations.”


Dr. Forste’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirtieth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Housework and Family Satisfaction: A Short Video

One may be surprised to learn that over half of married couples cite shared housework as paramount to a successful marriage. They place it above income, children, religious beliefs, and concordance in political beliefs.  Sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste has researched the stalled revolution of gendered division housework and how our modern culture devalues that work. At the 2017 Cutler Lecture, she further illuminated this pressing issue.

She found that in terms of housework, both women and men were more likely to do the chores stereotypically associated with their gender; women did laundry, cleaning, and cooking while men took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and acted as the handyman. She further found that “women…report doing more than their fair share of housework whereas men report doing less than their fair share.” It is clear that both genders understand that the imbalance of housework is unfair.

“If both the partnership do laundry, buy groceries, and take care of sick family members the workload is reported as fair. Especially if both partners share in cleaning the house, respondents were almost three times more likely to perceive the distribution of household work as fair. So sharing housework is predictive of doing one’s fair share, which is predictive of family satisfaction,” said Dr. Forste.

This post is twenty-fifth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

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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How to Actually Help Your Kids Develop Empathy?

Ninety-six percent of parents consider it “very important, if not essential” that their children have “strong moral character,” according to a 2012 study done by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, but only 20% of youth actually prioritized caring above achievement and personal happiness, in a 2014 Harvard study. Parents and students BYU industrial design student Alison Brand and sociology student Marissa Getts recently spoke in a 2017 BYU TED talk about the importance of cultivating empathy in youth, which parents seem to understand, and effective ways to do so, which they might need assistance implementing to help children better overcome what may be seen as the natural selfishness of youth. “By actively and deliberately cultivating empathy in young people,” they said, “we empower them to create positive change in their communities and in the world.”

girlEmpathy

What is empathy? Getts defines it as the ability of one person to step into another’s shoes, imagine what they are feeling, and feel it with them. What would happen if no one possessed empathy? “Self-interest would reign. Anger, aggression, bullying would be more common than not. And we wouldn’t try to understand what people were feeling and think,” said Brand. Such actions could have a deleterious effect on one’s relationships from childhood to the relationships between countries.

By contrast, an empathetic world “is a world filled with kindness and compassion.” In it, people would be able to have positive interactions with both close friends and strangers.

Fostering Empathy

How does one foster empathy? Getts and Brand recently interviewed young change-makers between the ages of 13-20 who were engaged in empathetic social innovation. Their projects included the construction of a Braille printer from Legos and the successful creation and implementation of an anti-bullying program in their school. They found that each of these children got to where they were through three milestones: 

  • Spark: “an experience or something they learned that made them feel deep empathy for a person or a problem” 
  • Action: this experience so impacted the children that they took action
  • Validation: adults validated them, which helped them take their actions or projects further. “It was only because the adults in their lives didn’t snuff out their flame that they were able to accomplish such great things,” said Brand.

 In each of the interviews, the youth cited the importance of their parents’ support. Furthermore, Getts and Brand reported that nearly all of the youth said that their parents initially said no to their project ideas but amended their answer after the child persisted or that they were surprised when their parents were in favor of their idea. “Somehow, parents have become either a real barrier or a perceived barrier to a child developing empathy and creating positive social change off of that,” explained Getts.

How does one rectify that? The speakers offered the following suggestions: pexels-photo-355948

  • Foster an environment for ‘sparking.’ Help children meet new people and have new, foreign experiences
  • Encourage exploratory action. “It’s crucial that we step back and let these youth take appropriate risks. We need to teach them that learning, not perfect execution, is success,” said Brand.
  • Provide positive validation wherever possible. Whether it’s feedback or money, any form of validation can help a child pursue their idea and go further than anyone might expect.

Men build too many walls and not enough bridges,” said Joseph Fort Newton. This can be redressed by fostering empathy in youth. By allowing them to spark and take action, while offering affirmation, we enable them to feel with and for others and therefore change the world.

What are your ideas for fostering empathy in kids?

 

Why do we Devalue Housework?

We mentioned last week the tendency cited by sociology professor Renata Forste that Americans tend to have to devalue housework- it’s women’s work and therefore not difficult. What effect has assumption had? She cited a quote from Hanover Sociology professor Robin Ryle: “One of the most important end results of the doctrine of separate spheres was the creation of not just a difference in how we think about what men and women do but also a hierarchy in how those tasks are valued.”

 


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To view the full lecture, click here.

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Do We Devalue Housework?

“Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don’t do it,” said BYU sociology professor Renata Forste in a recent lecture on the devaluation of housework and its relationship to women. In our society, she explained, we do not value housework, certainly not as highly as paid labor, because it’s less visible and cleaning the home and doing laundry have been chiefly done by females. An underlying assumption seems to have been formed that “if women can do it, it must not be that important or that hard.”

But, Forste posited, housework is just as integral and essential as paid labor, and should be valued and shared, for a variety of reasons. She discussed why here, but you can watch a brief highlight here:


Froste is the director of BYU’s Kennedy Center as well as a professor in the sociology department.

This post is twenty-second in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Fulton Winner Found That Sibling Size Affects Risky Behavior

Does the number of brothers and/or sisters one has help or hinder individuals in their life goals? BYU student Tiana Hoffmann sought to answer that question through her 2017 Fulton Conference poster. In her sociology class, she learned that the amount of siblings one has directly affects educational results. This prompted her to ask the question: Does sibship size, or the number of children of a particular set of parents, also affect other outcomes? Tiana found that, at least in the early 80s, the more siblings an adolescent had, the more likely he or she was to try drugs or sex at a younger age. However, the age at which they began smoking and drinking rose if they had more siblings.

Application

What does this mean for the everyday American? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in the year 2015, 15.9% of those aged 12-17 said that they had used illicit drugs in their lifetime. If you include marijuana in that category- illegal in most states- then the number rises to 25.3%. SAMHSA further found that in the same year and age category,  17.3% and 28.4% had used tobacco products and alcohol respectively. These are serious issues and any research that can be used to better understand and predict adolescent behavior is of paramount importance.

fulton_Sociology

Further Research and Implications

Of her results, Tiana said: “I was definitely very intrigued by the results. I was surprised that a higher number of siblings had opposite effects depending on the outcome.” As for where her research will go next, she added: “I would love to be able to test if birth order makes an impact on the decisions adolescents make. Perhaps, their behavior has less to do with the number of siblings they have in their family and more to do with where they fall in their family. Additionally, I would love to perform the same tests on a newer data set since the data I pulled from was collected in 1979-82. It is possible that we may find much different results when testing with data that is more current.”

What does she hope will happen as a result of her research? “I believe that as a social scientist, it is my responsibility to perform research that matters for people and could impact the way they choose to live their lives. But, I think that people should always be thinking critically about the research that is put out there and make sure that they are considering their own personal circumstances. My results were varied and found that higher sibship had both a positive and negative impact on adolescents depending on the outcome…. I want my research to encourage people to think critically and dig deeper into possible reasons why adolescents engage in risky behavior.”

Fulton Conference

Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, Tiana said: “I had a great time. The conference was very well organized and I felt very accomplished as I presented my research to people who seemed to be very interested in the results. I am obviously very grateful for my mentor, Dr. Mikaela Dufur, and the encouragement and guidance she gave me through the process.”

What do you think of this research?

Research Shows That People Who Get Divorced or Are Widowed Have the Worst Health

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Research, as we’ve mentioned here and here, shows consistently that people who are married have better health. It follows, then, that divorce or widowhood can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Dr. Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and a 2010 Hinckley presenter at BYU, found that people who were married and stayed married to the same person had consistently better health than those who had remarried after a divorce or loss of a spouse, had been divorced or widowed and not remarried, and those who had never married. Interestingly, in terms of physical health, those in the second group who had been divorced or widowed and not remarried reported the worst physical health, those who had never married reported only 12% fewer negative health events, and those who had remarried after divorce or widowhood reported 27% fewer negative health events than the divorced or widowed. Still, that last group suffered 21% more incidences than the “always married.”

 

The previously married also reported worst emotional health, with those who had never married not far behind.

 

The short video below highlights the results of her research, shared in a 2010 Hinckley lecture by Waite. The full video can be viewed here.

 

 

 

What are the Health Advantages of Marriage?

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Want to know how to be healthier? Get married! University of Chicago professor Dr. Linda Waite studied marriage and its effects on people and found that the institution improves the health of those in it. She said, in a 2010 Hinckley lecture, that it gave men confidants and purposes in life beyond themselves. Statistically speaking, she said, they also:

  • Sleep better
  • Eat better
  • Drink less
  • Smoke less

Women get different things out of marriage, namely financial stability. Because women can generally depend more on men to provide for them financially, they are able to spend more time with the children. Women who are married with kids generally spend less time working than they did when they did not have kids.

“It’s extremely important that marriage produces social connections,” Waite added. “It connects people to an intimate other and that’s probably the most important single connection and can’t really be overrated.”

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, social development, and single parenting.

Research Says that Marriage Makes You Live Longer

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What’s the secret to living longer? According to Dr. Linda Waite, it’s marriage. In a 2010 Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture, Waite shared her research showing this. She studied 100 American couples over eighteen years, charting their marriages, divorces and, deaths. She found that women who were married lived longer than women who never married, were divorced, or widowed: “Marriage keeps women alive,” she said, and the same was true for men, to an even greater extent, all else being equal. “When you look at the most basic, most fundamental health indicator,” she said, “it’s very clear that married people are advantaged.”

Dr. Waite graduated with a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1976. She is the Lucy Flower Professor in Urban Psychology at the University of Chicago.. She researches social demography, aging, the family, health, working families, and the link between biology, psychology, and the social world. The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair, which sponsored Waite’s lecture, was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, “social development,” and single parenting.