According to the latest research, anyway
By Jenny Cook
Just like work and pay, new research suggests that – when it comes to housework – the gender gap still exists. The study, published in the journal Sex Roles, found that women are more likely to complete the majority of domestic chores at every stage in life, making gender the biggest predictor of who does what around the house – while factors such as income and work hours also had an effect.
The Canadian research team tracked more than 900 participants who had life partners as they transitioned into adulthood. They used questionnaires to assess couples at the ages of 25 (moving into adulthood), 32 (young adult) and 43 (midlife), examining the ways in which household tasks were divided between them across each life stage and the impact that changing circumstances had on them. Lead author Rebecca Horne of the University of Alberta in Canada said:
“Women consistently perform more housework than men do. Patterns of housework responsibility between men and women tend to be quite consistent at each life stage despite minor fluctuations in the volume of housework chores.”
Specifically, women and the partner with the lowest income are the ones doing more household chores when a couple is around 25 years old, while work hours and men raising children impacts involvement at 32. For couples in their forties, gender was the biggest predictor of who will do what chores. Horne added:
“Overall, time, money, and gender variables seem to be important for explaining the division of household labour, albeit to varying intensities depending on stage in the life course.”
However, if this set up sounds familiar to you then it might be a potential red flag for your relationship, as a separate study has found that wives are more likely to be sexually attracted to husbands who help with housework. This is attributed to women feeling less stressed over balancing work and home life, while shared responsibility also puts relationships on a more even footing.
Another similar piece of research echoed these findings, suggesting that when men perceived their contribution to doing chores as fair, the couple had more sex and female partners were reportedly more satisfied with their sex lives. Sociologist Scott Coltrane, of the University of California, said:
“One of the keys to successful sharing of tasks between husbands and wives is a belief in gender equity… It used to be that men assumed that their wives would do all the housework and parenting, but now that women are nearly equal participants in the labour force, men are assuming more of the tasks that it takes to run a home and raise children.”
Of course, the delegation of household chores and what works will be different for every couple. But, if you find yourself often struggling to get everything ticked off your to-do list, these findings might help you become more attuned to any potential influences or disturbances in your domestic life.