Now that I’ve finished by series of posts about my experiences with dishes at home, I’m going to start blogging about academic research that will help us understand who does the dishes at home.
Almost a year ago, I had a blog post about an article by my friend Hanna Kleider on how social policy can influence the gendered division of labor. Her article’s bibliography helped me get stared reading the research on this topic.
I’m going to start by looking at quantitative work by Suzanne Bianchi and her colleagues.
She died in 2013 at age 61. The New York Times has a good obituary summarizing her life and research. Here’s part of it:
Her most influential finding — that working mothers of the 1990s spent as much time with their children, or more, as stay-at-home mothers of the 1960s did — upended conventional wisdom suggesting that women with careers were shortchanging their children.
Working mothers clocked an average of 30 hours a week on the job, but managed somehow to match the ’60s-era homemakers’ average weekly total of hands-on, close-contact time with their children: 12 hours.
“How could the time allocation of our family caregivers, women, change so dramatically without a negative effect on the time mothers spend with children?” Professor Bianchi asked.
They got less sleep, she said, and did less housekeeping, worked flexible hours, turned down promotions, were more likely to take the children to work when the babysitter did not show up, cut back on exercise and entertainment, watched less TV, and gave less personal attention to their partners.
The fathers of the ’90s spent more time with their children and did more housework than fathers of the previous generation, Professor Bianchi added. But women did more of the work in the house and most of the schedule juggling. “The changed allocation of time in two-parent families is primarily a change in women’s allocation of time,” she said.
Her most cited article is available free from the journal Social Forces:
Suzanne M. Bianchi, Melissa A. Milkie, Liana C. Sayer, John P. Robinson; Is Anyone Doing the Housework? Trends in the Gender Division of Household Labor. Soc Forces 2000; 79 (1): 191-228. doi: 10.1093/sf/79.1.191