Workers in female-dominated professions do more housework

August 13, 2013
August 13, 2013

If you want a husband who shares housework more equitably, marry a nurse, a teacher or hair stylist—or someone who’s in a female-focused career.

Men in predominantly female jobs will perform 25% more household chores than a partner who works in a male-dominated profession like an electrician or engineer, a new study (pdf) of heterosexual couples from a Notre Dame professor shows.

Even single men in these careers spend more hours cooking and cleaning, said Elizabeth Aura McClintock, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame who studies modern romance and its effects on careers.

Male-dominated professions are those where women hold fewer than 25% of the jobs; female dominated are 76% or more female and McClintock estimated that almost 60% of men still work in one.

The reverse is true too, but less pronounced: Women in female-dominated jobs will do 14% more household chores than women in male-dominated fields. But women reduce the amount of housework as their husband’s job composition becomes more heavily female. So an IT manager working for an engineering firm (highly male) could find his wife spends less time making dinner or washing clothes if he moves to managing a school district’s technology department.

McClintock’s research may play into the outdated stereotype that a woman’s role is in the home. But people who work in mainly male or predominately-female occupations may experience changed perspectives or interests, which shifts their thinking about housework or cooking, she writes. Also, men in “female jobs” may also become more aware and empathetic to women’s frustrations of their “second shift” jobs at home, according to the paper being presented at the American Sociological Association convention this week.

The research is based on US Census data from 1981 to 2009, and finds another factor that influences time spent on family and home chores: availability of time. Men will increase their household tasks a bit when their wife works more hours, and they’ll reduce them when they collect a lot of overtime.

Something else to consider: Researchers say when husbands help more around the house, couples are intimate less often.

Follow writer-entrepreneur Vickie Elmer on Twitter @WorkingKind. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

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