People Still Think Housework Is A Woman’s Job. Here’s Why They’re Wrong.

The "second shift" — a.k.a all the meal prep, cleaning, and errand running that someone has to do, but no one's getting paid for — is exhausting, unfair, and bad for our health (really). And even though we can say we're aiming for equality at home, a discouraging new study found that changing our attitudes about an equal division of at-home labor may be more challenging than we thought. As reported by the Huffington Post, a new study from Indiana University found that men and women both believe that women should pick up the bulk of the household chores, regardless of whether or how much they work outside the home. To conduct the study, researcher Natasha Quadlin interviewed more than 1,000 couples, presenting them with a hypothetical scenario about who should do what chores in a marriage. Quadlin tells The Huffington Post that she had anticipated the divvying would happen along income lines, where the partner who made less money or worked fewer hours would be expected to perform more labor at home. But instead, "findings suggest that [gender] is by far the biggest determinant of Americans' attitude toward housework." Quadlin found that even same-sex couples tended to divide domestic chores along stereotypical gender perceptions. When Quadlin presented a hypothetical scenario with a same-sex couple, she found that typically "female" chores, such as cleaning, cooking and child care, were assigned to the partner who was perceived as more feminine. Meanwhile, the more "male" chores (yard work, car maintenance) were assigned to the partner with more "masculine" qualities. Depressing, right? While there's some good news — other research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that men have slowly been taking on more responsibility at home in the last decade (men spent an average of 21 minutes per day on cleaning and food prep in 2015, as opposed to 18 minutes in 2003) — it's clearly not enough. And it's disturbing that Quadlin's findings indicate that the discrepancy is likely coming from our own attitudes and expectations. Unfortunately, those attitudes are so entrenched that it doesn't seem like something easily fixable by a a chore wheel. We've reported before on the intense pressure working women feel to be on top of everything that goes on at home, too — a sentiment that only intensifies when kids come into the picture. And not only does this second shift breed resentment, it can also cause major health issues. A study earlier this summer found that women who work more than 60 hours a week (including unpaid household labor) are more at risk for chronic disease than women who work fewer hours. Instead of delegating chores, maybe we can begin by challenging the assumptions of what we (and our partners) are capable of doing. After all, getting comfortable in the kitchen, learning our way underneath the hood of the car, and figuring out how to divvy up the laundry are all pretty essential adult tasks. And yes, while tackling gender bias in chores is just one more thing to add to the household to-do list, it may be one that pays off the most in the long run.

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