Recently we saw that the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) reported that women spend more time on household activities.
Let’s take a closer look.
Below, you can see that marriages have become more economically egalitarian:
But that does not mean that women are doing less work at home.
Among four of the five kinds of heterosexual marriages, women do more of most household responsibilities. Even if the marriage is egalitarian or the wife earns 60 percent of the couple’s income, still her husband does less. And predictably, when the husband is the sole or primary breadwinner, caregiving, shopping, cleaning at home are not his concern. Only when she is the sole person earning an income, will her mate do the household stuff.
Even in egalitarian marriages, the household time gap is large:
Asking why, Pew tells us that it still is about traditional values. Surveys reveal that society minimally values men’s contributions to household responsibilities, especially when compared to work outside the home. By contrast, what women do at work and at home are valued more equally. In addition, approximately half of the Americans who were polled by Pew said married men prefer to earn more than their wives. (Echoing economist Nancy Folbre, we could say that the home’s patriarchal institutions are one source of a gender gap.)
But it gets worse…
Our Bottom Line: “Mental Load”
In a wonderful series of images, the French cartoonist Emma explains that, as the household manager, women bear more of the burden than time reveals. Relaxing, she is still deciding when to take the children for their booster shots and when to fold the laundry. More often than not, her male partner expects her to tell him what to do and when. And, as a result, he has almost no Mental Load:
So, when we see the American Time Use Study, we can add countless mental load hours to the tasks they clock for women.