Partners‟ relative earnings and the domestic division of labour Rosemary Crompton and Clare Lyonette Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century 26-27 March 2009 Queen‟s College University of Cambridge Positive and negative aspects of the division of labour • The division of labour contributes to greater productivity (Smith), and can also be a source of social solidarity (Durkheim). • However, the detailed division of labour can contribute to rising exploitation („deskilling‟, Braverman). • When the division of labour is „feudal‟ – ie allocated by tradition to a particular group (caste system, gender) it is associated with enduring inequality. • „Traditional‟ allocation of domestic and caring work to women is one of the reasons why women are at a disadvantage in the labour market – despite equality legislation etc. • Make a general point: • Change in gender relations will involve institutional (eg increase in women‟s employment, legislation, gender role attitudes etc) as well as interactional (ie personal relations between men and women) change. Three approaches that explain the domestic division of labour • Exchange (relative resource) bargaining models: the partner who brings more resources to the partnership will have the power to get the other partner to do more housework (the more a woman earns relative to her partner, the less housework she does and the more he does). • Time availability models: housework is carried out by the partner with the most time available. • Interactionist „doing gender‟ gender Display models: „gender‟ is produced in everyday activities, and household members „do‟ gender as they carry out housework and childcare (housework etc. is „gendered‟ feminine, West and Zimmerman). Recent quantitative research testing relative explanatory significance of resource bargaining and „doing gender‟ approaches • Exchange model works up to a certain point (ie as women earn more men do more housework), but when men become more economically dependent, women do relatively more housework in order to neutralise gender „deviance‟. (Brines, Bittman et al., Greenstein). • „Exchange‟ and „display‟ models different applicability in different countries: US display, Sweden exchange (Evertsson and Nermo). In fact, the domestic division of labour (DDL) demonstrates considerable cross-national variation. However, theories developed to explain gender „imbalance‟ are universal rather than particular. • No support for „gender deviance neutralisation‟ (display) model. (Kan, Crompton and Lyonette, Gupta and Ash). • Debate not resolved – but we should remember that women still take on majority of the housework, even when working full-time. • We will explore this topic using qualitative research evidence. Background and methods • BSA (British Social Attitudes) survey 2006: of those in paid work or „looking after the home‟, 12% reported that the woman earned „more or much more‟ than the man. • BHPS: proportion of women earning £10k+ than partners increased 3.39% to 8.79% 1996-2006; women earning £5k+ 8.5% to 15.37%. • Our data draws on 85 interviews with men and women carried out as part of a GeNet (www.genet.ac.uk) project. Interviewees were qualified doctors, accountants, also employees in finance and retail, all interviewees had at least one child under the age of 14. Classification of partners‟ relative earnings • Woman Earns More (WEMs): woman earns £10,000 or more than her partner (including man not working). • Same Income Couples (SINCs): earning between £9.999 less and £9,999 more than partners. • Man Earns More (MEMs): man earns £10,000 or more than his partner (including woman not working). • Used flexibility in this classification given the income range amongst our interviewees – eg woman £17,000, man £10,000 classified as WEM. • 23 WEMs, 12 SINCs, 50 MEMs. Asking questions about housework and childcare • Interviews semi-structured. • First: „Who would you say has the major responsibility for childcare/housework, yourself or your partner?‟ • Second: probes getting details of management of childcare and domestic work. • Third: „In your view, who should have the major responsibility for childcare/housework, the man or the woman?‟ Who should have primary responsibility for housework and other domestic responsibilities, the man or the woman? • 69 interviewees (men and women) said domestic chores should be shared, only 2 men said they were the woman‟s responsibility. • Answers often qualified with both „time availability‟ and „exchange‟ justifications: • „I think best shared, but it depends on available time‟ (F7 male MEM) • „If you‟re both working, contributing (money)…then you both need to contribute to the …running of your home‟ (M10 male MEM) The „myth of male incompetence‟ • Naturalistic assumption that men are „not very good at‟ domestic work. • It (doing housework) should be both equally (laughs). It‟s just that it‟s an individual thing, a man, he might be not as, not house-proud but things might not be, matter to him as much. I know ….I‟m a bit of a perfectionist so I know I want things a certain way at home. So I know that, you know, he can have his meal and say oh well the dishes can be put in the dishwasher later or tomorrow. Whereas I‟m like no, get them out of the way now, so it‟s that sort of detail where, because I‟m pedantic and just follow it through and I think it sometimes comes to a head and you sort of think well, no this is not fair, but then it‟s me wanting it to be that way, so if that‟s the case, I choose to do it that way. But then, I think men are quite different because they almost follow instructions, so if I say could you do xyz he will do it, at his own pace, but he will do it. But it doesn‟t necessarily naturally just come to them, so that‟s how I look at it. (R12 female MEM) • „It (housework) should be shared. Again we, it depends who‟s busy…but anyway (wife) does it most of the time…but occasionally she, she blows off and I will do things…She wants things cleaner than I do (M17 male MEM). Extent of men‟s and women‟s input in childcare and housework, according to partners‟ relative earnings Who is mainly WEM SINC MEM Total responsible for childcare? M F M F M F mostly male 0 5 0 2 0 0 7 Shared 2 6 0 2 3 3 16 Mostly female 1 7 1 7 30 14 60 Total 3 18 1 11 33 17 83 Who is mainly resp- onsible for housework? Mostly male 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 Shared 2 5 0 5 19 3 34 Mostly female 1 14 1 6 13 14 49 Total 3 20 1 11 32 17 84 Who actually does the childcare and housework: discussion • 69 said that housework should be shared, only 34 reported that it was shared. • Male MEM much more likely to report sharing (19/32) than female MEM (3/17). Men „over-report‟ household input. • Female WEM and SINC much more likely to report sharing of housework – support for „exchange‟ hypothesis (although women still do more). • Much higher level of shared/male responsibility for childcare amongst WEMs and SINCs Women who earn more than men • All SINCs high-earning households (lowest £71,000). • WEMs: 2 class-based groups (1) 14 in which the woman was a high earning managerial/professional (£50,000- £100,000+ (2) 9 in which the woman earned decent wage (under £20,000 - £40,000) and the male partner had low (under £15,000)or no earnings. • Both categories were similar in that husbands/partners gave extensive childcare support. Many men had changed jobs (even given up employment) so their wives could continue in employment. • But most women still took major responsibility for housework Is gender deviance neutralised by housework? • No. Except for one man, who had given up work to care for his children and refused to do housework. • „…he‟s very, very outgoing, so he has a great time not working, he plays golf three days a week …he has always been there for the children, and he does all the running round with them, so I have complete peace of mind, … one thing I‟m really, really grateful for is I have never had to dress my kids, take them out in the rain, and take them to a child minder… Basically in theory he does (the housework), but in practice I do… our views of housework are totally different. So I tend to spend Saturday morning whizzing round and doing all the cleaning and everything, I mean I have periodically suggested that we get a cleaner, and he refuses. He sort of says, no, you know, I don‟t think we should … you know, most of the time it really isn‟t an issue… every now and again I‟ll flip and say, well I‟m not working all week and coming home and doing this…. He‟s very good, he still cooks even at the weekends‟ (F3 female WEM). Rather, ‘Gender consciousness’ heightened • WEMs and SINCs had a heightened „gender consciousness‟ and had actively negotiated domestic sharing, or tried to ensure that „their‟ men contributed. • „I think its just inbred…I watched my mum…she did all the housework, I was brought up little girls run around with feather dusters don‟t they?...if I had a husband who refused to do housework…or had an attitude problem because I was earning too much money, I wouldn‟t be married to him anymore‟ (F22 female WEM) But the „myth of male incompetence‟ can get in the way of gender conscious efforts • … (housework) should definitely be shared. I‟m a definite advocate of it not being a woman‟s job. My husband might be bad at it but I make him do it. I don‟t have time to do everything. He‟ll do the washing; he‟s very good at getting the washing in the machine, getting it out, dry. I‟ll do the dusting, the cleaning and the hoovering, because he‟s awful at doing that. So, you know, we kind of split it. I don‟t let him get away with it (F20 female SINC) • (Interviewer: Who is mainly responsible for the housework?) Me, unfortunately, I tried to level it out but it didn‟t work. He didn‟t do it to the right standard. I think they do it on purpose men don‟t they?...Using the cleaner, he‟ll just clean round things, then all of a sudden you‟ll move the sofa and you‟re like, “What is that under there?” …. or he says, “Don‟t clean upstairs now because no one goes up there bar us, you don‟t need to hoover” is his argument. (F 30 female WEM). Discussion and conclusions • Change in gender relations will require both institutional change (eg in employment, gender role attitudes) as well as change in daily interactions („undoing‟ or challenging as well as „doing‟ gender) • For those interested in gender equality, „who does the housework?‟ remains an important topic as domestic responsibilities make it difficult for women to compete on an equal basis with men. • Our analysis of daily interactions in couples where women earned as much as or more than men suggests that men are willing to take on childcare responsibilities, but less willing to take on housework. However, women‟s continuing responsibility for housework is not explained by „gender deviance neutralisation‟, as some quantitative research has suggested. Rather, women were gender conscious and made considerable efforts to get their partners to do more domestic work. Discussion and conclusions • But: some men draw on a modified version of gender stereotyping (the „myth of male incompetence‟) to avoid housework, and many women fall back on similar arguments to justify persisting housework inequalities. • „It's me, I'm the neat freak. My husband's a slob. So I get home, pick everything up, put everything away, take my coat off, well sometimes take my coat off first, it depends. …. We don't have a cleaner. I've asked several times, but unless I'm willing to pay for it myself, then it's not going to happen, so no. …My husband does most of the washing …. so he'll sort the washing out, but everything else is down to me, so I tend to put it in when I get home, do a bit of this, bit of that, clean the bathroom weekends, you know‟ (F20, female SINC). Finally… • Five of the WEM couples in the professional and managerial category paid for housework to be done by someone else. This did not always remove tensions: „(husband) always thinks we can pay the way out of it by getting someone else to do it and the idea you can‟t sort of get someone else to interview your au pair and interview your nannies for you and that kind of thing.‟ (A3 female SINC). • In any case, paying for somebody else (usually another woman) to do domestic work removes pressure for change in gender relations and can perpetuate gender traditionalism.
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