Posted: 24 August 2014
Did you know that it is women who do the majority of housework? Even mothers of young children, who are holding down fulltime jobs, seem to spend more time than men with a mop and vacuum in hand. This however is not new information; every few months you can find a news report somewhere highlighting the situation. The most recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), shows that in households where men are the main breadwinners, they do 14.5 hours of housework a week, compared to 27.6 hours by women. That may seem understandable, but even when the situation is reversed, and women are the main breadwinners, the data still shows that men are not taking up their fair share of the load. Needless to say, if both the man and woman are in the workforce it seems only right that they contribute to the domestic duties in an equitable matter.
However, these reports about who is doing what chores are only so helpful, and in fact I think that in some respects, they are completely unhelpful. They may be leading us to believe that quantifiable domestic tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and laundry, are the sum work to be done in keeping a household, and by extension a family, in good order.
Of course ‘back in the day’ we know that husbands left the house to work, and wives raised the children and cared for the home. Since women got the vote in Australia in 1902 however, there has been a steady march towards a greater participation of women in the paid workforce, and in the last two generations this has really flowered (which is not in-principle a bad thing). Governments are working harder than ever to ensure than women are getting back into the workforce as soon as possible after having their 1.87 children. Read the rest of this entry »