Science Isn't Golden

Matters of the mind and heart

Women as Subjects of Employment Discrimination

Sexism in the workplace persists and results in human rights violations Read More

Housework is why an employer's problem?

Well, I don't know that women doing the lion's share of the housework and childcare is the employer's problem if the woman has a partner. Fair enough if you are single and have to do 100% of everything (and I don't just mean single MOMS, I mean all singles, male and female) but if you have a partner or teenage children then they should be pulling their weight too. If a woman is too gutless or passive-aggressive, or their partner is an insensitive oaf, then neither of these are employment issues.

They should, but they don't

Yes, the male domestic partners should pull their weight equally, but they simply REFUSE to. To put it bluntly: even when they do much LESS than 50% of their housework, they already feel they are doing much MORE than their share - and they start putting up fights about doing even more, up to and including leaving their partner for a "less bitchy and demanding" one.

I'm not pulling this out of my backside: studies after studies reveal that men have NO IDEA of the REAL weight of housework and childcare. They systematically underestimate the time and energy necessary to keep a home running, and thus consequently overestimate their own share in that work. They see 50% where they are doing maybe 15 or 25%. Their woman asking for more will be seen as nagging, and she herself will be seen as selfish, lazy and messy.

As for how this is employers' business: think of who will typically agree to leave work early to go get little Jimmy at school when he's sick. Most of the time, and no matter what the real impact on their respective jobs might be, it's Mom who will have the guts to tell her employer, "I have to leave early to go get my kid." Dad won't, because leaving work to pick up a kid is a woman's job; it would make him look like a wimp, like a spineless man at his woman's beck and call, if he were the one to leave. And guess what? Employers know that perfectly well. They KNOW that if there are kids involved (or likely to be involved any time soon), a mother is far more likely to let her family duties interfere with her job commitment than a father (Hell, many of them male employers even think this is the way it SHOULD always be anyway!) So you can bet that when choosing between a mother and a father, or between a young woman who can still have children and a man, all other things being equal, most employers will choose the man, simply because they know the man is far more likely to prioritise work ahead of family no matter what than the woman.

PS: the very fact that I even had to explain all this to you demonstrates the very point of this article.

Get With The Times

I'm skeptical. You're not referencing studies done in the 1960s and 1970s are you? As a millenial male (and knowing many others), I don't see housework and childcare as "women's work" at all. I've been doing housework since I was a kid (as has my father) with the understanding that it's important to help the family out. I, and many other males, understand that relationships consist of give and take so it would be more wimpy and "spineless" not to help a woman in need.

Dad's won't leave work to pick up a kid? I disagree, I know many dads who leave work to take care of their kids because they love them, and they don't want to burden their wives.

The world is changing. We live in a different time. There might still be inequality in the workplace, but perhaps sexism isn't the only reason for it. Why can't that be a possibility?

Can't say I'm surprised

"You're not referencing studies done in the 1960s and 1970s are you?"

Hint: did men believe in sharing in the housework AT ALL back then?
More straightforward answer: nope. Studies done in the last 10 years keep confirming that male participation in housework is WAY below 50%, even though men FELL differently.

Which takes us to...

"I've been doing housework since I was a kid (as has my father) with the understanding that it's important to help the family out."

Yes, but are you up to 50%? Is your father up to 50%? Statistically, chances are that the answer is a big fat "NO".

Moreover, why are you phrasing it as though it were more of a moral obligation than a basic duty? Doing housework is not "helping the family out"; it's just doing your own part in the work necessary to keep the home going.

"it would be more wimpy and "spineless" not to help a woman in need."

Look closely at how you phrased this: you just described doing housework as "helping a woman in need". So much for not "see[ing] housework and childcare as "women's work" at all", I'd say. If you truly saw housework as something men should naturally do, then you wouldn't even associate it with helping out women. The fact that you seemingly do, highlights just how far you still have to go.

"I know many dads who leave work to take care of their kids because they love them, and they don't want to burden their wives. "

You're doing it again: you're giving out reasons for why fathers take care of their kids which makes them look like they are selflessly sacrificing something: because they love their kids, or because they want to help out their wife. What about simply considering it like a duty that is part and parcel of being a father? That's what women do: "I'm a mom, so I gotta do this and that."

Moreover, once again, you mention helping out the women. So once again, you imply that the fathers are actually doing the mothers' job.

And finally, how much is "many"? 20 or 30 out of 100 is many, but it's still only about HALF as much as the 50 which would indicate true equality.

"The world is changing. We live in a different time."

Yes, we do. But we still live in a world where men are massively under-involved in housework and childcare, and where women are still massively prejudiced against in the workplace. It's not the 50s anymore, granted, but it's nowhere close to equality either.

"There might still be inequality in the workplace, but perhaps sexism isn't the only reason for it. Why can't that be a possibility?"

Nobody ever said sexism is the only reason. It's just the biggest reason, by far. And as a bonus, I can bet you that 90% of whatever other reasons you could bring up could STILL be traced right back to sexism in the rest of society, such as school or church.

Comments from "Del"

Your comments are terrific - clear and to the point and compellingly argued. If you can send me a private message through this site, I'd like to be in touch with you about something.

Kenii, given that there are

Kenii, given that there are dramatic inequalities in the workplace and that they differentially affect women negatively, could you be more specific about what other than sexism might be at play there? What is the problem with recognizing and naming sexism and trying to eradicate it?

Say, Winslow Arizona, I wish

Say, Winslow Arizona, I wish I could see an indication in your comment that you want to try to understand these issues. The personal is, after all, deeply political, much though you prefer to individualize and privatize problems of sexism in one's family life and sexism in the workplace that often combine in devastating ways.

Women experience far more

Women experience far more discrimination than men. Any obstacle men experience for their gender is no where near as comparable and as oppressive as what women has to go through everyday.

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Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist, is an Associate at Harvard University's DuBois Institute and former Fellow in Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program. more...

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