25 Sep
2019

Women still performing bulk of household chores survey finds

The glass ceiling for women is arguably being smashed in the workplace, but according to a new study, the same cannot be said of the home.The first exhaustive survey of the division of household chores in Britain finds that in the vast majority of couples, women are still shouldering the bulk of the work.The analysis by University College London (UCL) reveals that even for couples where the woman is more qualified and has a more demanding job, she is still likely to do around half of the housework.However, where the man is better qualified and has a busier paid job, he is likely to leave the majority of housework to his partner.Experts believe that despite the steady erosion of gender discrimination in the workplace, traditional opinions pervade behind the closed door of the home.Published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, the study found that fewer than seven per cent of couples share housework equally.“When it comes to housework and caring, we see gender equality remains rare and gender norms remain strong,” said Professor Anne McMumm, who led the research.“Changing attitudes around gender norms is one avenue for encouraging change in this area.” The team analysed data from more than 8,500 different sex couples who were interviewed as part of the UK Household Longitudinal Study in 2010-11.They identified two small groups where men’s contribution to housework was equal or more than that of their partners.In one of these groups – making up six per cent of all couples – women were the clear breadwinners.In another group – just one per cent of all couples – the man remained at home and did more than 20 hours’ domestic labour.However, even in this group, around two thirds of women also did some domestic work.“Our study suggests that even couples who share egalitarian ideas about the roles of men and women may not be able to counter potential obstacles to equality in the UK,” said Professor McMumm.Overall, almost half of the couples surveyed were duel-earners, with both members tending to be employed full-time.Within this group, 45 per cent of men did no more than four hours of housework a week, however 44 per cent of women worked between 10 and 19.The second biggest group, amounting to around three in 10 couples, had a highly traditional division of work, with men predominantly employed full-time, while over half of the women were not in paid work, and the remaining were employed part-time. They tended to spend more than 20 hours per week on housework, with 63 per cent of men contributing fewer than five hours per week.While progress has been made in some sectors to reduce the gender pay gap, new figures in April showed that the gender pay gap has widened at nearly half of the UK’s biggest employers.Budget airline Easyjet was among the top three worst offenders of an analysis of 10,000 firms, with a gap of 47.9 per cent.Professor McMumm suggested Britain should follow the lead of Scandinavian countries where well-paid paternity leave and provision of affordable childcare are widespread. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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