The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that though an ever-increasing number of American women are working both outside the home and in work-from-home positions, in order to help a partner financially maintain the household, they are still also responsible for the lion’s share of household chores:

Household Activities in 2011 

–On an average day, 83 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management.

–On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.

–On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework — such as cleaning or doing laundry — compared with 48 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 66 percent of women.

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “Women make up the majority (57.5% and 57.2%, respectively) of professional and related occupations and service occupations, the occupations expected to grow most rapidly (16.8% and 13.8%, respectively) from 2008–18.” The NCPE also noted that married women represented the most dramatic increase in the percentage of working women, and even mothers with very young children are now participating in the labor force.

Since this is the case, shouldn’t household chores be more evenly distributed? Admittedly, the number of men participating in “food prep or cleanup” is comparable, but the gap significantly widens when it comes to cleaning. Does this mean men (and women) are still genderizing chores like laundry, mopping, and bathroom scouring?

If you’re in a marital or cohabitating situation, do these numbers accurately represent your experience? Are you working full-time and coming home to do the bulk of the housework? Or have you and your partner worked out a more equitable exchange of household labor? Do you find there’s still a strong “expectation” that a woman in a relationship should take care of home, even as she is contributing to half (or more) of the bills?

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  • Humanista

    “Hey…if you want something done right do it your self……” (Tonton)

    Bingo! I think a big problem is that many men are just not taught to do these things, they aren’t used to it or socialized for it, unfortunately. I think a lot of times women end up doing it so it can be done, and done correctly. I am not convinced that MOST men say to their wives/live-ins “no, I’m the man–YOU do it” in some big chores discussion. At least, I know very few men who do feel that way, and those that do are men who are upfront about that particular *preference* from the first date. I often wonder if it just comes down to getting the housekeeping done and done effectively, and many men just aren’t invested in that “sort of thing”. Women are raised cleaning and cooking and doing laundry, while many men…aren’t. Now I’ve heard the argument that they help out in the house all the time, but I know from experience, the amount of time spent fixing a random thing or maintaining the property is not at all equal to the consistency of maintaining a household–unless you live on a farm.

    Until individuals are raised knowing that as they will most likely be sharing bread-winning duties, it is only fair that they share household duties, it’s up to the couple to make sure that both are just as invested in all facets of their family life.

    I know I couldn’t be in a household that was that unbalanced.

    • Keiko

      Not only are they not taught to do these things, most of them don’t even care to learn because they think it is a woman’s job.

    • Humanista

      Exactly right, Keiko

  • Tami

    I work outside the home, while my man, who has recently become unemployed is looking for a job but is home most of the time. I plead with him to scrub the floors, while I do everything else…that’s all I want from him is clean bathroom & kitchen floors, & to vacuum the carpet. It’s a battle getting him to do just that while I work, cook & clean.

  • Jenn

    I love my man and god knows he tries but sometimes it kills me to see the disparity of chores. He is an active feminist male and the son of a chef but he almost never cooks. I’ve only seen him clean a bathroom once in four years and I’ve never seen him sweep or mop a floor. I thank the gods of domesticity that he’ll do the dishes and laundry but it’s like he doesn’t think about those major cleaning tasks.

  • danKini

    We both do chores in our house and work full-time. The mister has a more flexible schedule, which leaves him with the bulk of errands regarding our family. I call my other half Mr. Mom. I think it does accurately portray most households. I also feel like it should not have a negative connotation. I may do more chores, out of choice. I greatly appreciate the help, but I prefer things to be done a certain way. I think that happens in a lot of households. You also have to consider peoples strengths regarding chores and how that reflects uopn the percentages of chores that relates to gender.