International Women’s Day: Is there still a housework gender gap?


Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is dedicated to celebrating the amazing achievements of women around the world, from politicians and businesswomen, to all of the great women in our own lives.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, which reminds us that today is also an opportunity to support the campaigns for greater gender equality.

Whilst campaigns striving to close the gender pay gap and promote greater equality in the workplace tend to receive much attention, the inequality in our own homes is often overlooked!

So, we have decided to mark this important date by highlighting the realities of the housework gender gap.

Who cleans most in your home?

In the 1960s women did at least 85% of the housework almost everywhere in the world! Luckily, we have come a long way since then, but women are still doing the bulk of the chores.

In fact, according to a recent study by Oxford University’s Centre for Time Use Research, women in the UK spend an average of 2hrs 12 mins per day on household chores, compared to men’s contribution of just 1hr 9 mins. This means British women still do an average of 65% of the housework!

This gender gap in domestic cleaning is also driven by the gendered stereotypes that still surround certain housekeeping chores. For instance, the more seasonal tasks such as clearing the gutters are stereotypically allocated to men, whilst women seem to be left with the tedious chores such as vacuuming. One of our professional housekeepers based in Highgate says that she can relate to this, as her husband is often responsible for occassional tasks such as mowing the lawn where as she is responsible for more everyday tasks such as ironing. 

Don’t brush this under the carpet 

Attitudes have changed drastically over the years towards ‘traditional’ gender roles, so why does the housework gender gap still exist?

American writer, Tiffany Dufu, argues it can’t simply be blamed on sexist men who want to avoid all cleaning chores. She believes it is rooted in lingering gendered expectations which tie a woman to her home and make her feel she is entirely responsible for its cleanliness and upkeep. This is perhaps why many women report feeling guilty to book a cleaner to help them out around the home, even though it would make their lives much easier!

Whilst, there is certainly nothing wrong with taking pride in our homes and wishing to keep them neat and tidy, contacting cleaning services should not be a personal taboo for any woman and there is certainly nothing wrong with sharing out the household responsibilities!

Closing the housework gender gap

A recent study has estimated that at this current pace, it will take 30 years for the housework gender gap to close! Regardless of whether this is true or not, raising awareness is always a good place to start, so be sure to share this post with your friends and family!

You may decide to take the advice of journalists, such as Leah Ruppaner and go on a housework strike, by reducing the hours you spend cleaning. You may simply ask your loved ones to help out more around the house or find a cleaner to make life a little easier, without feeling guilty! Big or small, remember all change counts!