The key to getting men to do “women’s work” might be, well, to have them do women’s work. A recent study found that men in committed relationships with women were likely to do more housework if they had jobs in female-dominated fields.
(Photo Credit: Jo Jakeman/Flickr)
University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth Aura McClintock presented the study “Gender-Atypical Occupations and Time Spent in Housework: Doing Gender or Doing Chores?” at the American Sociological Association annual meeting on Tuesday, August 13. The research drew on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the years 1981-2009, and included thousands of people.
The study found that men with traditionally female jobs such as teaching or nursing do 25 percent more housework than men in male-dominated fields. Their female partners do 14 percent less housework. (Suggesting, as well, that the houses of couples with male partners in “female” jobs are also cleaner than the houses of other male-female couples. But we digress.)
Significantly, McClintock did not find a difference in the amount of domestic labor performed by men in female-dominated fields when they were single. This suggests, she said, that the difference lies in the way couples negotiate with each other about housework, and not the “gendered nature” of the job.
Whether this means that men are more in touch with their feminine side or less secure in their position in the relationship and household is up for debate. One thing is clear, however: the difference isn’t because men are embarrassed by doing jobs that women usually do.
“I did not find evidence that men compensate for the emasculating effect of working in a highly-female occupation by reducing their housework contributions,” McClintock said. “This may be because men do not feel emasculated by working in female jobs.”
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