It’s a new decade and women now hold more jobs than men. But they also still hold onto the majority of household duties.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 109,000 more women in the workforce than men.
However, a Gallup poll reports that women are still more likely to do laundry, clean the house, do grocery shopping, prepare meals, wash dishes and make decisions about furniture and decorations – even among younger generations who are reportedly more egalitarian as ever.
Although this may come as a shock to progressive-thinking millennials, experts aren’t surprised. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, current trends indicate that it’ll take at least 208 years for the U.S. to achieve true gender equality.
So why is it taking so long?
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Stemming from childhood
Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said that gender roles change “very, very” slowly and are most likely a product of an individual’s upbringing as a child.
“It’s more convenient and comfortable for people to follow the gender roles that they’ve grown up with,” he said. “If you look at the studies, girls are asked to help out with activities than boys are.”
And he’s right. According to a 2017 analysis, girls who are 15 to 19 years old spend about 45 minutes doing household chores every day while boys in the same age group spend about 30 minutes.
Reis said that individuals are raised and socialized to do roles in a gender specific way. Even though parents nowadays are trying to teach their children more gender-neutral roles, he said it’s still a struggle for people.
Data shows that even better-educated parents aren’t more likely to ensure that their sons have the skills to care for their home, according to an analysis of the American Time Use Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The second half of the Gender Revolution
Christin Munsch, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, says that most millennial men say they’re for gender equality, but that it takes more than that to close the gender gap.
“On some level they believe that they want to be these good feminist men that share housework and responsibilities,” she said. “But I think when all that is said and done and it comes to practice on the day to day basis, there’s a reason why it’s not implemented.”
More and more men are in favor of women occupying male-dominated spaces, but are reluctant to enter spaces that have been historically designated as female.
One reason for that is because our society still values masculinity, Munsch speculates. She said that research has shown that male-designated jobs, such as business and engineering, pay more than most female-designated jobs.
Even men and women in the same profession get paid differently. According to Salary.com, a janitor can make up to $41,000 per year whereas a maid can make up to $35,000 per year.
Munsch speculates that another reason why men don’t contribute equally to household duties is because they’re not as motivated as women. A study conducted by the University of California and published in the peer-reviewed Sage Journals suggested that women are judged more harshly by society for a cluttered home than men.
“Women’s reputation takes a ding when things aren’t done,” Munsch said. “[Men] haven’t been doing it and no one is holding them accountable.”
Sharing household chores is not just another step to eradicating gender inequality, it’s also a way to ensure a healthy relationship.
According to Munsch, relationships where men and women have a lot of inequality in terms of housework and income are less stable.
“We’re always assessing how equal the relationship is,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable when you’re over-benefiting or under-benefiting.”
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People feel frustrated when they feel their partners aren’t contributing enough to the relationship. On the flipside, their partners get equally frustrated when they feel like they’re not needed.
Munsch said distribution of duties varies by couple. There are definitely successful and happy relationships where men work full-time and women stay at home.
But most people want some sort of equality in their relationships and the only way to ensure that is if both people want to take on 100 percent of the work.
“Instead of counting, we’re both not keeping score at all but we’re trying to take as much off each other’s plates as possible,” she said.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.