‘Twas the day after the weekend and all through her house, not a clean plate was shining, the kitchen even scared the mouse. In the office, the desktop was completely unclear, cluttered with paperwork that must be done by the end of the year. While household revelers rested and played, mom cleaned while recalling a tale of a murderous maid!
While our thoughts can soothe us with fun recollections and humorous observations, a study by Whitman Insight Strategies implies that many women don’t have time for fun when you look at the gender breakdown of these household maintenance tasks.
- Buying groceries: 65% of men, 90% of women.
- Cooking/preparing meals: 48% of men, 85% of women.
- Household cleaning: 48% of men, 88% of women.
- Planning social activities: 26% of men, 57% of women.
Sound like old news? Here is what’s new:
- Nearly half of the households in the United States are headed by women.
- 42% of mothers were sole or primary breadwinners, bringing in at least half of family earnings. Nearly another one-quarter of mothers—22.4%—were co-breadwinners.
Socially Acceptable Diminishment
The Census Bureau found that husbands and wives are lying about who makes more money when the woman is the primary breadwinner in an opposite-sex household. While more and more women are bringing home the bacon, as well as frying and cleaning the pan, they are also hiding their economic success in an effort to keep egos and societal expectations intact.
It doesn’t take a rocket psychologist to figure out what this kind of diminishment can do to self-esteem. This is a serious concern as low self-esteem raises levels of anxiety, depression, and impairs functionality.
Pandemic’s Widens Inequality
While everyone is facing unprecedented challenges, women are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout of COVID-19. Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September 2020, with one in four reporting lack of childcare as a contributing factor.
Also, LeanIn.org and Survey Monkey found that working women, in comparison to their male counterparts, were experiencing notably higher levels of physical anxiety, sleeplessness and work-life conflict due in large part to the extra burden of balancing work, parenting, care-giving and housework during the pandemic.
Level The Playing Field
It’s important to remember that many of our actions are the result of unconscious conditioning and are not necessarily intentional. Even before the pandemic, women bore the burden of caregiver. Your family does not want to drive you to the point of psychological, emotional, and physical destruction. We are all blindly following roles in scripts that were written thousands of years ago.
Unfortunately, we have not been as deeply schooled in emotional intelligence as we have in gender norms. The following steps can help pave the way for equality in the kitchen, laundry room, and household ledger – filling it and balancing it:
- Ask for partnership, not help: Needing help implies that responsibility lies with just you. Partnership implies that we are all in this together.
- Anticipate challenges: Again, gender norms have been with us for a very long time, and they are not going to go away. Make a list of the household chores. Give yourself and your partner the space to be honest about what you really hate doing – For example, if you don’t like cleaning the toilet, speak up, and open the door for compromise.
- Let your partner know what’s on your plate: If you have a crazy work week, a heavy meeting schedule, or see a homework avalanche coming, let your partner know and be willing to reallocate responsibilities.
- And as I recently heard feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, tell a student, “Don’t be afraid to say “this is unfair.“
Let’s Get Real
Workplace inequality in the home is becoming a real threat to the overall well-being of working women. It can be a tremendous drain on the energy of mind, body, and spirit women need in order to do what is being required of them physically, financially, and emotionally.
“I find that in marriages where bread-winning women are really thriving with their partners … they actually team up with their husbands,” Farnoosh Torabi, author of “When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women,” told Business Insider. “I find that we forget we are in a partnership and this person sitting next to you wants nothing more than to support you,” she added.
In order for all of us to thrive, it is time for us to start having real conversations about gender equality in the home, truly hear one another, and most important, remember our compassion.