As a female-founded and run business, we believe strongly in celebrating and championing the women around us. We have been supported and inspired by so many women in this venture, from our families, friends and the female founder community.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate women's achievements and increasing visibility with the ultimate goal of achieving gender equality. In order to reach this goal, it’s essential to also call out the inequalities that exist. For us at Guests on Earth, that includes a specific focus on the Household Gender Gap. The Household Gender Gap refers to the unequal distribution of household labor between men and women, with women generally shouldering a greater share of the burden. This can include tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, childcare, and other domestic duties.
In recent years, several studies and surveys have shown that men's attitudes towards women are evolving progressively. There is almost universal support for women to pursue careers and political office, and attitudes have become far more accepting around gender identity.
Yet around the world, studies consistently show that women do more unpaid housework than men. The extent of the disparity varies depending on the study and the location, but it is generally significant.
A few examples (and here is some global data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development):
- In Canada, unpaid housework in 2019 was worth over $860 billion, with women doing an average of 15 hours per week compared to 10 hours for men. Source: Statistics Canada
- In the United States, women spend an average of 112 minutes a day on housework, compared with 58 minutes for men. Source: Centre for Time Use Research, via The Guardian
- In the UK, women spend an average of 132 minutes a day on housework (62 of them cooking) versus men’s 69 (31 cooking). Source: Centre for Time Use Research, via The Guardian
- In South Korea, women still do 87% of the housework – two hours and 27 minutes a day – while men do just 21 minutes. Source: Centre for Time Use Research, via The Guardian
- In the Nordic states, known for family-friendly policies, women continue to do around 60% of the housework. Source: Centre for Time Use Research, via The Guardian
- In Italy, women are spending three hours 30 minutes on chores each day, compared with men’s 37 minutes. Much of that is taken up by cleaning and laundry, although this is down to 110 minutes, from 132 minutes in 1980. Source: Centre for Time Use Research, via The Guardian
It's important to note that these studies are based on averages and that there is a lot of individual variation. Some couples may split housework more evenly or have different arrangements that work for them. However, the overall trend is that women still do more unpaid housework than men.
According to the NYTimes, the distribution of types of chores also break down on gender lines. The chores men do more of are usually outdoors, like car upkeep and yard work. The chores women do more of are indoors, like cleaning and cooking. The chores men do more of happen weekly or less often, and the ones women do happen daily or several times a day.
Same-sex couples divide up chores more equally, however recent research has uncovered that when they have children, the partner with higher earnings takes on less housework, and the partner with lesser earnings takes on a greater share of household chores and child care. Even still, gay and lesbian couples divide up work more equally than same-sex couples.
The kicker is that even in relationships where women work and earn as much as or more than their husbands, they still do more domestic work, and social scientists have found that the duties are still gendered (NYTimes via Pew Research Center).
At Guests on Earth, we believe in a more equal distribution of housework and we designed the brand itself (from visual identity to variation in scents) to appeal to everyone. It's working. We are proud to have a significant percentage of male customers and community members. But we need to do more.
The housework gender gap is real, and it's time for us all to acknowledge it and take action. We recognize that each relationship and family is different, but that talking through and distributing household work can lead not only to more marital satisfaction, but also greater opportunities for women to pursue other things, like work, goals, hobbies.
As Melinda Gates once said, “This is one of those root inequalities that exist all over in society and we just don’t talk about it very much… If we don’t bring it forward, we basically won’t unlock the potential of women.”
Here are some things we can do to get started:
- For those with kids, invite and share in some housework tasks, like light tidying up / cleaning, so that kids understand cleaning isn’t just for mommy.
- Have a conversation or plan about dividing up household chores in a more equitable way, depending on what that means / looks like for you.
- For the partner who typically does less household indoor chores, taking a more active role in household tasks without waiting to be asked.
- For the partner who typically does more indoor chores, asking for help and delegating certain tasks.
We would love to know what you think, feel free to add in the comments.
And HAPPY IWD!