The truth about women and housework

Overall, women did an average of two hours more housework a day than men over the past 50 years. Photo / Getty
Overall, women did an average of two hours more housework a day than men over the past 50 years. Photo / Getty

Women who feel the men in their lives aren't pulling their weight may well be right.

For, according to Oxford University, British women are still doing far more housework than men.

Despite advances in gender equality and the advent of the "new man", women do 74 minutes more housework a day than males.

The figure comes from an analysis by two female academics of 50 years of time use data, covering 66 studies from 19 countries.

Housework was defined as laundry, cleaning, cooking - tasks that are traditionally seen as being women's work as well as being among the most hated of chores.

DIY, shopping and other jobs viewed as being masculine or neutral were excluded.

Overall, Britons are spending much less time on housework than in the past. But while British men are rolling up their sleeves, women are still doing the lion's share of the chores.

In 1961, the average man in the UK spent just 24 minutes a day on housework while the typical woman put in 3 hours and 39 minutes - more than three hours more.

By 2000, the gap had narrowed to an hour and a half, with women clocking up 2 hours and 35 minutes a day on chores and men managing 1 hour and 5 minutes.

In 2005, the latest year for which data are available, men had cut back to just 48 minutes of chores a day. However, women were also doing less, with their daily total of 2 hours and 2 minutes giving a gender gap of 1 hour and 14 minutes.

Overall, women did an average of two hours more housework a day over the past 50 years.

Elsewhere, the women of Italy are the hardest working housewives, spending far more time each day on chores than other females. This may be partly because their men are the least willing to lend a hand.

In 1980, Italian women were doing 4 hours and 20 minutes of housework a day while men were managing just 17 minutes. The men upped their game to 38 minutes a day by 2008 but women were still doing more than three hours a day more.

The women of Spain, Poland, France, Germany and ex-Soviet bloc countries also did high shares of the housework over the decades.

In contrast, the Nordic countries have been leading the way in terms of gender equality, with figures showing women in Norway, Finland and Denmark doing just over an hour of housework a day more than men.

But in other countries, the move towards equality has slowed. And in the US, it seems to have stalled. Men today do little more housework than 20 or 30 years ago.

The authors said far from being a trivial thing to study, trends in housework offer important insights into changes in gender equality.

Writing in the Demographic Research journal, they said: "The study of housework is interesting. Firstly, it is a routine, repetitive and disliked activity, which means that the relative time spouses spend on housework has long been recognised as an important indicator of marital power.

"Secondly, the division of housework is significantly related to couples' wellbeing. Disagreement over housework is one of the main sources of marital conflict."

Study co-author Oriel Sullivan, a professor of sociology of gender, said: "Despite obvious progress over the last few decades, our research suggests a slowing down of gender equality in many countries."

- Daily Mail

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