Gender Gap Persists – No surprises here

On the heels of yesterday’s post about the burden of household work, I came across this New York Times article, “Americans Value Equality at Work More than Equality at Home.”  It’s parsing apart this study from the Pew Research Center on “Americans see different expectations for men and women.” 

So on the good news (and common-sense): the vast majority of folks say that men and women should be equal in both “the public sphere of work and the private sphere of home.” But…

“Most say that while women should have the same opportunities as men to work…they should do more homemaking and child-rearing.” 

Claire Cain Miller, “Americans Value Equality at Work More than Equality at Home,” New York Times, 3 December 2018

When you read the Pew analysis of the study, “men face a lot of pressure to support their family and to be successful at work.” Hmmm. Let’s see. You know who *also* faces increased pressure to support their family? Who else might need and or want to be successful in their careers?

Bingo. Women!

And yet, women have more pressure than ever “to be an involved parent.” 70 percent of mothers work (outside the home), and of those, 40 percent are the primary breadwinner

News flash: that duality – to be more at home AND be more at work is not tenable.

It’s one of the reasons I have a long list of reads for anyone wanting to read about mom guilt (about opting out of the workforce for some period of time) or working mom guilt (about feeling guilty about being inattentive to one’s parenting obligations or one’s work obligations in favor of parenting).

So if all that household work is real, thankless work – and it is – then it’s all the more depressing that it comes on top of the pile of “real” (outside of the home, office job-type) work that women have to do.

There are all kinds of books out there that show that we supposedly have more free time now than we ever have.  So we fall prey to all kinds of self-help books and workshops on

  • how to manage our time better (because obviously we should be less overwhelmed with all this free time we’re letting escape from our clutches!)
  • how to be more productive in less time (because obviously once we manage our time, we need to *do* stuff with it!)
  • how to be happier

I’m not saying some of these things aren’t worthwhile, valuable, or even paradigm-shifting or life changing. 

But they all go back to the same problem that I have with Lean In. Why is it up to us women to scramble to problem-solve our way out of this harried, overwhelmed, overworked mess? Instead of tackling the root cause – we need structural change at workplaces, among leaders of all genders and stripes to make accommodations for the very time-consuming and not-at-all optional work at home – and not penalize – women who either have to or choose to work. 

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