Gendered Pressures: Divergent Experiences Linked to Housework Time Among Partnered Men and Women

Abstract

In Western countries, men’s and women’s unpaid labor time has converged in recent decades, promising gender equality. Nevertheless, a stubborn gap remains. We extend our understanding of the “stalled revolution” by examining gender differences not only in hours but in everyday experiences linked to housework time. We argue that the felt pressures linked to household tasks are a key gendered quality associated with daily domestic work, particularly given the cultural weight and responsibility of housework for women. With time diaries from the 2015 Canadian General Social Survey (GSS), we examine housework time among different-sex partnered women and men aged 25–64 years (N = 6,850). We assess whether more housework time is associated with time pressures—feeling rushed, stressed, trapped, and unaccomplished in one’s daily goals—and whether this differs by gender. As expected, women do more housework than men; and more daily housework is generally associated with greater pressures. Results show a gender divergence in the relationship between hours and two forms of pressure. For women, housework time is associated with feeling stressed, whereas for men it is not. In contrast, housework time is associated with feeling unaccomplished more so for men than for women. Thus, in addition to gender differences in the amount of time spent on unpaid work, there is an experiential gender gap. The association of more housework time with feeling unaccomplished for men but not women portends a continued cultural mismatch between masculinity and domestic labor. Examining divergent qualities of domestic labor engagement extends knowledge of the stalled gender revolution.

Publication
Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Dana Wray
Dana Wray
Ph.D. Candidate

I am a sociologist researching family, work, and social policy.