If you have a few minutes, you should check out the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce from the Families and Work Institute. It has some pretty awesome and interesting statistics about the roles men and women play at work and in their families and how their various perceptions of traditional gender roles have shifted (and in some cases, changed dramatically) in the past decade.
First the good news: There is decreasing disparity between what men and women get paid for doing the same work. Many fewer men and women than ten years ago think that the best way for a family to function is for the woman to stay home. Fathers are spending more time with their children (and so are mothers, although the difference is less dramatic) and they are taking more responsibility for the care of their children (according to them and their wives).
This all pretty much rocks.
Now the less good news: On the home front, the women are still in charge of holding down the fort when it comes to cooking and cleaning. Men are doing more than they did ten years ago, but the difference is still pretty sigificant. For example, according to 70% of women they take most of the responsibility for cooking at home and according to 56% of men, they do. So not only do women doing most of the cooking but there is a pretty big disparaity between how much the men think they are contributing.
Other not great news: Men are pretty much as stressed and torn between work and family as women. Sure, we’re equal in our stress — and this might be a good thing for mutual understand and hey, maybe even for keeping marriages stronger — but it’s not a good thing to have both parents stressed out about juggling work and family.
All of these findings make sense to me and while I am thrilled (THRILLED!) to see some of the old-fashioned gender role perceptions vanish, I feel the pain of the women who are still shouldering more of the responsibilities on the home front. I have an absolutely wonderful husband who does a lot. Truly. But the bottom line is that I am still responsible for more of the big stuff and it’s exhausting. (Sorry, honey, but you know it’s true.)
What do you think about the findings in the study? Do you and your partner or spouse experience different levels of stress about working and taking care of a family? What about things like cooking and cleaning – does one of you do more than the other?