Gendered Division of Labor
To illustrate the gendered division of labor within dual-earner couples
1. Each student will interview two couples, one with children in the home and one without children in the home. Students should ask each member of the couple the following:
- Please estimate the amount of time that you spent performing housework yesterday. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
- Please estimate the amount of time per week that you spend performing housework. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
- Please estimate the amount of time per week that your spouse spends performing housework. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance.
- Approximately how many hours per week do you work at your paid job?
- Please tell me who usually is in charge of the following tasks:
- Paying bills
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Cooking meals
- Mowing the lawn
- Grocery shopping
- Planning meals
- Shoveling snow (if applicable)
- Cleaning up after meals
- Household repairs
- Mending clothes
- Emptying the dishwasher
- Washing clothes
- Changing linens/sheets
- Mopping the floor
- Washing windows
If children are present in the home ask the following questions (when applicable):
- Changing diapers
- Getting children ready for school/day care
- Helping with homework
- Supervising play time
- Driving children to school/day care
- Arranging for play dates
- Arranging rides/car pools
- Making doctor and dentist appointments
- Driving to activities
- Transporting to and from doctor and dentist
- Arranging for day care
2. Students break into small groups to compare interview responses. Have students address the following questions:
- What patterns did the students notice?
- Di dpartners agree on who was responsible for the different chores? If not, was there a pattern?
- Were women typically in charge of stereotypically female tasks or men in charge of stereotypically male tasks?
- Was there a greater division of labor among couples with children than among couples without children?
3. Identify the percent of companies that tout family-friendly values and benefits.
- Average amount of time spent by each partner on household tasks
- Average amount of time spent by each partner on paid work
- For each task, the percent of the women surveyed that were responsible for the task and the percent of men that were responsible for the task (decide as a class what to do when spouses disagreed about who was responsible for a task)
4. Pool tabulations from the different groups and determine whether the results from the class show a gendered division of labor.
5. Discuss the patterns that students found in terms of division of labor. Ask students to identify the factors that might influence the division of labor in a home (e.g. relative income disparity between husband and wife, socio-economic status, presence and age of children).
Content contributed by Patricia V. Roehling, Ph.D., Hope College and Phyllis Moen, Ph.D., Cornell University as a Suggested Work and Family Class Activity