What is the Great Battle of The Sexes?

What is the Great Battle of The Sexes?

It is the great battle of the sexes, over whose turn it is to do the washing up and take out the bins.

But even in the modern world, women are far more likely to get stuck with the bulk of the housework.

A study of more than 8,500 British couples found that in 93 per cent of them women do most of the household chores.

Even when men and women both work full-time, women are five times more likely to do 20-plus hours a week of housework.

Men are almost as vocal as women about thinking couples should share work and home life, based on the results taken from the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

But when it comes down to it they are far more likely to avoid housework, and to do less than five hours a week.

In older couples whose children have left home, almost half of men get away with fewer than five hours of chores a week, compared to only eight per cent of women.

Where men manage to do the same amount of housework as their partner, or more, it tends to be because she is the main breadwinner, but this happens in only seven per cent of couples.

Professor Anne McMunn, who led the study from University College London, said: ‘These results matter because this is extra work which women are doing for free as housework is unpaid.

‘We don’t think this is an active choice on the part of men to try to keep women down.

But even these days it still tends to be the case that if there is something which needs doing in the home, women just do it.

‘We tend to follow the patterns which we saw our parents fall into when we were growing up but this has been described as a “second shift” for women who come home from work and start doing more in the form of household chores.’

It is well known that women still do much more domestic work than men, but researchers wanted to understand why.

They split couples into eight groups, based on their answers on employment, housework and caring responsibilities to 2010-11’s UK Household Longitudinal Study, which is given to thousands of people for research purposes each year.

The largest group, of around two in five couples, was made up of relatively young ‘dual earners’, who would be expected to share housework as the men and women both work full-time and tend not to have children.

But in fact 16 per cent of women spent 20 or more hours of their week on housework, compared to only three per cent of men.

The second largest group was of couples where men had full-time jobs and women worked part-time or not at all, largely because almost three-quarters had young children at home.

As well as being responsible for the bulk of the childcare, more than half of these women did 20 or more hours of housework a week. In contrast, almost two-thirds of their husbands and partners did less than five hours.

Among couples in their fifties and sixties, whose adult children had mainly left home, 44 per cent of women did 20 or more hours of housework a week.

The housework was only shared equally, or men did more, among the six per cent of couples were women were the main earners or the one per cent where men were ‘stay-at-home’ husbands, fathers or carers or had taken early retirement.

Housework was largely unequal despite a similar proportion of men and women having modern views on gender roles, like it being important for women to work and that their place was not in the home.

Professor McMunn said: ‘Men still earn more than women, on average, and that gives them a little more leverage in terms of negotiating housework.

‘Things are not changing as fast in the domestic sphere as we might have thought, so we need to raise awareness and think a bit more about it.

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