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Women are spending less time doing chores - what that means for gender equality




A woman ironing in her kitchen. New research shows that the household chore gender gap is slowly shrinking.
A woman ironing in her kitchen. New research shows that the household chore gender gap is slowly shrinking.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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A new study conducted over a 50-year span by Oxford University researchers found that women are spending significantly less time doing household chores, while  men are spending slightly more time doing chores than in past decades.

Results also indicated that the overall gender gap in [the time spent doing] household chores has declined in several countries, including in the U.S.

What do these results mean? For starters, household chores are still largely considered a woman’s job; think back to the term, “the second shift,” used to describe childcare and household chores that await women after having worked a full shift at work. Despite traditional gender roles, researchers of the study concluded that the narrowing gender gap indicates a general movement toward gender equality in the household.

Judith Treas, chancellor’s professor of sociology at UC Irvine, says there are two reasons women are spending less time on household chores: women’s high labor force participation has left them with less time for chores and couples are marrying much later in life, forcing bachelors to figure out how to do their own laundry.

How do you and your partner divide chores? Does your household adhere to traditional gender roles or has your family created its own set of rules? Has this evolved over time?

Read the study below: 

Fifty years of change updated: cross-national gender convergence in housework:

 

Guest: 

Lynne Casper, Professor of sociology, USC