The data from 100 years ago still applies now despite modern advances — working women are doing way too much around the house
It’s no secret that working outside of the home and raising a family is a tough balance. There is no “having it all,” there are concessions, dropped balls, and daily exhaustion. One recent study found a reason many women not only feel tired, but are tired — we spend almost seven hours more than men on weekly household chores.
These and other results from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) were released this week by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the findings are not only frustrating (though likely unsurprising for women), they are similar to the findings from almost 100 years ago.
The study researched the average amount of time per day in 2018 that individuals worked, did household activities, and engaged in leisure and sports activities and according to one finding, full-time working women spend 21 hours on average on housework every single week.
Additionally, on an average day, just 20 percent of men did any housework at all, compared with 49 percent of women. Women also spent more time on cooking and cleanup than men — 69 percent and 46 percent respectively. Men were “slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women — 11 percent, compared with 7 percent.”
What’s even more frightening about these statistics, is that economist Valerie Ramey estimated, in 2008, using data collected from thousands of detailed time diaries, that married, employed women in 1900 put in about 27 hours a week on household chores. In 2005, she did the same. As of 2018, that number has barely moved.
This isn’t news to many. One study from University of Michigan found married women with more than three kids did an average of about 28 hours of housework a week, and their husband’s created seven additional hours of housework for them. Married men with more than three kids, by comparison, logged only about ten hours of housework a week.
It’s not to say men aren’t capable of putting in the same hours as their working spouses — they very much are. But it seems based on the data that they simply are choosing not to. Not only that, women typically take on more of the “mental load” in a family — meaning the worrying, thinking about appointments, grocery prep, doctor’s visits — all the little unseen things that take up hours and hours a week in our brains. Again, not to say men don’t also think about these things, but the burden usually falls on women.
The data doesn’t lie. In another study, among women who decided to leave their full-time jobs, two-thirds cite “lack of household support from their husbands” as a decisive factor. These are educated, successful women who can’t juggle work and family because they don’t have any help.
The study also found on an average day, among adults living in households with children under age six, women spent 1.1 hours providing physical care to a child versus just 26 minutes spent by men. Perhaps women really could have it all if there was more balance in things like household chores, childcare, and time spent participating in leisure activities. Like a man.
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