Gender Equality In Household Management

The modern father seems very involved at first sight, with his fixed ‘daddy day’, but in practice that is often disappointing.

Stress, Chores & Your Marriage Dr. Tabitha Johnson


Because who keeps an eye on the diaper supply, is concerned about parenting issues and realizes that the daycare center must be canceled for the holiday period, or that the vacuum needs some replacing with the best handheld vacuum?

It is still often the woman who pays for this unpaid work. Dutch women spend 4 hours and 14 minutes on unpaid work every day, such as taking care of children and doing household chores, according to figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Men spend 2 hours and 25 minutes on it every day.

“Equal relationships suddenly become traditional as soon as children come,” notes psychologist Darcy Lockman in her controversial new book All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership. She was annoyed by her own husband who thought he was entitled to “blow off steam” in the gym after work, instead of helping her with the baby. She decided to investigate the skewed distribution and interviewed experts and fifty American women, who often turned out to be resentful in silence towards their inconspicuous spouses.

This is not a problem in the relational sphere or complaining of women, says Lockman. “The division of labor between modern parents at home is one of the most important gender problems of our time.” The lead that young women have over men – they are often better educated and receive a higher salary from their first employer – changes into a backlog when they become mothers.

Why are women still often the manager of the family, even though so many more work outside the home? This is evident from the beliefs we hold about what a good mother is. Research shows, for example, that Dutch people think that women can take better care of young children than men. ‘And we don’t like more than three days of daycare. You often have no children to take them to the day care center, you often hear. While in Belgium five days of care is normal. ‘

Remarkably, the division of tasks in the home is in many cases, not a conscious choice. The Our Money from the Social Cultural Planning Office (SCP) study shows that only one in four couples talk about this during pregnancy.

The family is like running a business, you often hear. Isn’t it just logical that the woman does more at home if the man works more and brings in more money? Yet the household burden does not appear to be a purely rational economic assessment.

In families where the woman is the breadwinner, the distribution of household and care is more equal than in families where the man earns the most, but still not the same. The idea that the family member with a better job can ‘force’ the other person to take on more tasks at home, is not the other way around. “It shows how deep those gender beliefs are,” says van der Lippe.

And then biology comes into play. We tend to think that women are better at arranging and caring. “It is no longer acceptable to say nowadays: the woman should stay at home,” says Darcy Lockman. ‘Instead, it is said that a woman can do everything she wants, but when it comes down to it, she chooses to be at home with the children. Patriarchy continues, but with this sauce of freedom of choice over it. It’s supposedly not sexism, it’s biology. ” While this is about learned behavior. Lockman: “You become good at what you often have to do.”

Above all, let’s not forget that the father is also a victim of this traditional division of roles. ‘Men who want to work less and want to worry more are being opposed. Belgian research into parents in sixteen European countries shows that fathers receive less support from their employer and that friends think they are just a little ‘, says Esther de Jong of Atria.

If a man breaks his gender role and stays at home with the children, he loses twice: his status as breadwinner and he starts doing less valued work. “The focus has always been on more working women, understandable, but at the same time we must start appreciating those important care tasks,” says De Jong.

So the solution is not only with specific couples who have to adjust their behavior. We as a society must start to think differently about care tasks, work and gender norms.