Equality at home is a question of her career
Of the many causes of gender inequality today, perhaps none appears more innocuous than housework. Research has shown nothing could be further from the truth. Traditional division of labour at home systematically discourage women from pursuing professional careers in favour of work they can easily combine with in-home duties. As time goes on, the arrangement reinforces itself. Recent years have seen more equitable arrangements spread across Europe, but a new study by Susanne Fahlén confirms that this tends to be despite men, not because of them.
Using data from the European Social Survey, Fahlén examines division of in-home labour arrangements by couple-earner types. She finds that, for instance, within dual-career couples, couples in which both the man and woman have managerial or professional positions, housework is shared more equally than in dual-earner couples, couples in which neither have managerial or professional careers.
By breaking down these variations by couple-earner type, though, Fahlén is able to show that the more equitable division of housework among the former is not because men are spending more time cleaning but because women are spending less time doing it.
The results bring the mechanisms shaping in-home divisions of labour, and the policies affecting them, into even sharper focus.