No, I Won’t Do 61% of the Housework because I’m a Girl

The gender gap at work and at home.
This one is for all the couples out there. I’m intrigued by where you guys and gals sit on the gender division of labour? You know, who brings home the most money and who takes on the bulk of the household chores? Are you even splitters (high five!) or does one person take on the bulk of the work?
 
I was recently reading (listening – that always feels weird for me to say when talking about books), Lean In (yes, that’s an affiliate link, and you can get more info on my disclaimer) by Sheryl Sandberg and she talks a lot about the importance of having a partner who pitches in. I totally get that! Honestly, I don’t know how some women handle working all day only to go home and have to do the bulk of the childcare and housework. And I don’t even have kids. It’s a much more even split in my house, and I wish that were the norm for everyone. There have been slight improvements in this area over recent years but the stats are still not great, and heavily lean towards women taking on more and earning less. Here are a few that I found that really highlight the disparity: 
  • The employment rate of women between the ages of 25 and 54 has increased from 48.7% in 1976 to 77.5% in 2015. (Source)
  • Despite the increase in work outside the home, there has not been a similar decrease in mother’s participation rate in household work. That rate has remained at 93% from 1986 until 2015. The rate for fathers has increased over that period from 51% to 76% but mothers still complete 61% of the hours spent on household work. (Source)
  • The same pattern applies when we look at the division of childcare. Mothers care for children 66% of the time across the survey period, while fathers rates have gone from 33% in 1986 to 49% in 2015. (Source)
  • Women earn $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. (Source) This amount is bad enough, but it’s even worse in the States where the pay gap is $0.79 to every dollar. (Source)
I know these outdated beliefs still exist, but I like to think that my generation will be the one to raise children who refuse to accept the gendered wage gap, childcare gap and household work gap. 

How we tackle the gender gap…

You are likely already aware that I don’t exactly fit (or agree) with the ‘traditional’ gender role expectations that are still annoyingly prevalent. I work in finance, which is still very male dominated, the bf and I have been dating for over a decade, and marriage has always been on the back burner, I despise cooking, and I’m pretty iffy about whether or not children will ever become part of the picture. If I compare all these life choices to those of my mom’s, they are in stark contrast. She worked part-time in a female-dominated healthcare role, married young, had a child (although only one), and was always the person cooking and cleaning. Now, this isn’t to say that she agrees with this set-up, it’s just the way things were. My Dad worked full-time and had a long commute, so he just wasn’t home enough hours to actually contribute. 
 
Back to the present and our situation. Employment wise we are on a very similar track, in that we both work full time and have somewhat similar salaries. Ok, as the bf likes to remind me, I’m not exactly full-time…I usually work 9 am – 3 pm and have Monday’s off in the summer, but I do work longer hours during our busy season (plus I blog which takes up a lot of my time). Let’s just call it even on this front then ok? 😉 
I feel fortunate to have a partner who contributes around the house. Writing that statement actually just made me cranky. I am lucky, and do feel lucky, to be in this situation but I kind of wish I didn’t. Not feeling lucky about this would mean it was a rule and not an exception. We really do split chores evenly. As I said above, I hate cooking…and I’m terrible at it. I’m the girl who puts a pot of quinoa on the stove to cook, forgets about it and nearly burns down the house (this happened last month). The bf, on the other hand, enjoys cooking and is great at it, so willingly takes on 99% of the food prep in our house. However, since my organization skills are slightly (more than slightly) better than his, I take on the role of meal planning. We always do one big grocery shop together each week, and before that I make a list of what meals we’re eating and what we need to buy. That’s teamwork folks!  
As for the rest of the household chores, I would say that I do the bulk of the cleaning but not everything. And let’s be honest, our house is a mess most of the time. This would be the one category where we actually abide by fairly traditional roles. Laundry, dusting, floors, etc. are all on my chore list whereas shovelling snow, mowing the lawn, and taking out the garbage are more frequently done by the bf. For us, this works. Do I still dread mopping the floor? Absolutely, but it makes it easier knowing that I won’t also have to cook dinner after. 
 
I also like to think that if we added children to the mix, we would balance their care equally. Neither of us wants to give up our careers and become a stay at home parent so we’d have to factor in daycare costs and packed schedules. How do you parents do it!?
 
So, that’s my life. Let me know in the comments how you handle the work/life balance with your partner? 
The gender gap at work and at home.The gender gap at work and at home.

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4 comments

  1. We don’t have kids either, and I’m so confused as to how those people make it work. Our incomes used to be pretty equal, but now he out-earns me by like $25k. Still, we divide finances roughly equally: we each pay half the mortgage, I pay car insurance while he pays for utilities, we take turns grocery shopping, we take turns paying for dining or drinking out, etc.
    It’s the housework that’s a sore spot. I’m painfully neat and love a clean house. He cares about having a clean kitchen and will always make sure it’s spotless… and that’s it. He’ll help if I ask him to, and my mom got us a Roomba which is a life saver. But in general, I do most of the cleaning and I fucking hate it. Something to work on!

    1. I have a Roomba too and it is pretty much my favourite thing in the world!

      My partner is exactly the same, except for the kitchen part because he doesn’t really have any place that he makes spotless. He’s more than willing to help out if I ask but it’s like he doesn’t even see dirt…I wish I had that problem too. I have no problem doing the organizing and tidying up part of cleaning, but actually vacumming, mopping floors, wiping down countertops, etc. is torture. Why do houses get so dirty!

  2. I have a different perspective on this because I’m in a same-sex relationship. I will say, though, that admittedly my girlfriend does the bulk of the household cleaning. I do the daily stuff, but she tends to do the more deep-cleaning and go-through-our-clutter-and-donate-stuff tasks. Although in terms of hourly rate we get paid the same, she tends to out-earn me because she works more hours (she’s a nurse) and I get a defined salary regardless of hours I work.

    In our situation, she often doesn’t work during the day. She usually only has two days shift every eight days. This means that when I come home from work, she’s already been productive and has done a lot of the big stuff. Whenever she’s working on the weekends, I try to pitch in and do most of the household chores & make the meals. For us, it seems to be mostly about who has the time to do what household tasks, and divide the labour up that way. We’ve only had one or two disagreements when we first started living together about someone doing the bulk of cleaning, but we’ve realized that it’s more of a team effort – with one person picking up the slack while the other is working. It’s interesting, even in same-sex relationships, household labour isn’t always evenly divided either!

    1. That is interesting to get your perspective on it. For sure it sounds like the biggest determining factor for you is your different schedules. That sounds challenging to me! My boyfriend and I both work pretty standard day-job hours (I have more flexibility with hours though) so we both tend to be home every night and on the weekends. Because of that, we’re doing our chores at the same time which means we have to divide them somewhat…for us that’s usually him cooking and me cleaning. There’s obviously no perfect system, but I think as long as both of you try to pitch in it works out.

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