The Financial Reason Men Need To Do More Housework


Studies show that inequality when it comes to household duties has massive consequences.

When it comes to erasing gender roles and the damage they inflict on a social and economic scale, old habits die hard. For all the conversation taking place about what companies can do to start narrowing the pay gap, a new study shows that a persistent culprit is hiding in our homes.

Because women are still tasked with doing the bulk of household tasks in straight domestic relationships—even when they work full-time—they’re suffering financially. And beyond that, it’s likely dragging down national productivity.

According to a recent study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, women are still spending more time doing household work than their male counterparts, and because of this, they’re missing out in fields that reward long hours with pay raises and promotions.

“A 10 percent cut in free time for women reduces their share in high-hour occupations by about 14 percent relative to men,” as Bloomberg reported on the findings. 

The study asserts that this 14 percent reduction in opportunity for women in high-hour occupations translates into an 11 percentage-point deficit in the gender wage gap. Similarly, women were found to have altogether opted out of jobs and industries that require long hours, knowing that their workload at home would require too much time. 

If at-home labor was divided in a more equal way between female and male partners, general welfare would increase and output per hour would climb by 5.4 percent, because people would be making better use of their time and respective skillsets, the study says.

But even a literal division of at-home labor may not be enough. As Time notes, in the research for her book Thinking About the Baby, sociologist Susan Walzer found that among the 23 couples she interviewed, beyond the physical tasks, women did the bulk of the intellectual, mental and emotional work of household maintenance and raising the kids—something that’s now commonly referred to as “mental labor.”

Even in households where the physical tasks were divided up evenly, women carried the bulk of these responsibilities.

The notion that women are naturally more suited to housework is an antiquated, sexist falsehood—so much so that ads depicting men as dummies incapable of washing dishes were recently banned in the UK. Which is a start.

But as the concept of “mental labor” illustrates, much of this domestic workload takes place in our heads, completely out of sight. But it's still costing us.

It’ll require conversations between partners for starters, and continued work at dismantling ideas of gendered jobs and tasks. In the meantime, some words to live by from Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

Words: Deena Drewis
Photos: Natalie Jeffcott/GIPHY