A new survey shows that women are still doing the most housework while men just think they are
There is a major increase in the amount of housework that needs to be done while we’re all living and working at home. If you’re able to work from home and you’re a parent, you’re probably spending most of your days wondering how the heck so many dishes are piling up and why the toys are taking over every room of the house. And you know who gets to deal with all of it? Women, of course! Because men are still not doing their share, even though they’re home too.
A new survey conducted by the New York Times explored the division of labor among partners who are living, parenting, homeschooling, and working from home during the pandemic. While it’s likely not surprising that women and mothers are still doing more, it’s still incredibly unfair and telling. Especially when it comes to homeschooling.
According to the survey, homeschooling is being handled disproportionately by women. Half of fathers with children under the age of 12 reported they felt they were spending more time on homeschooling than their spouses — only three percent of women agreed with that statement.
Eighty percent of moms in the survey say they spend more time on homeschooling. As for housework, 70 percent of women say they’re fully or mostly responsible for housework during lockdown, and 66 percent say the same goes for child care — which, the Times points out, is roughly the same as non-pandemic times.
So even though more dads/partners are home than in typical times, they’re still not doing their fair share of the work. Even if both spouses are working in addition to homeschooling, women are still the caregivers, teachers, cleaners, and launderers.
And as with homeschooling, men “see it differently,” according to the Times. Of course they do! About 20 percent of men say they are fully or mostly responsible for these tasks during the lockdown. Only around 2 percent of women agree. Past research has consistently shown that men often overestimate the amount they do, and that women actually do more than they give themselves credit for.
The mismatch in perception here is uh, really something, huh?
“Being forced to be at home is amplifying the differences we already know exist,” said Barbara Risman, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, tells the Times. “What terrifies me for the future is if it will push women out of the labor force in a way that will be very hard to overcome.”
So why does all of this research matter if it’s unchanged from The Before Times? Well, in addition to giving us even more to exhaustively nag about (which is just more work for us to do, to be honest), the extra time women have devoted to childcare and housework has, historically, harmed our careers.
The survey also explored the paid work women and men are doing during the pandemic. Since the onset of nation-wide stay-at-home orders, statistics show a gender difference in couples who are both working from home. Women who are still working full-time remotely say they are working less than usual — 28 percent of them, to be exact. While only 19 percent of men say they are working less than usual.
To be fair, this boils down to the different expectations employers place on employees. A majority of the men surveyed admitted their employers still expect them to work the same amount or more, despite the fact that we’re all in the middle of an unprecedented mass casualty event worldwide.
Because the American workplace is deeply, deeply flawed in that they offer mothers little to no flexibility, moms have been more likely to pursue careers in which they can be available at home when needed, (hi, hello from your favorite freelance gig worker sitting in the middle of my two small children and 17,000 toys as I type this). And now that schools are closed, a majority of the work falls on the shoulders of mothers.
Maybe this research will lead to more equality in the household. But if a global pandemic can’t even get us there, it’s hard to feel confident we’ll ever achieve it.