Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Testimony to the Second Shift

Arlie Hocschild wrote the Second Shift back in the 80s, detailing the gendered division of labor that left mothers with far less leisure time than fathers and less money, too.  Since then, there have been huge debates in the "time use" studies about when and how gender shapes our use of time. 

Last week, the NYT reported on a brand new study that reveals a persistent (if closing) second shift for mother's.  Mothers spend, on average, 27% of their time on housework, versus 18% for dads; and mothers were reported to have 11% of their time in "leisure" compared to 23% for dads. Interestingly,  the couples who fought the least about housework were the ones with an explicit and rigid division of labor. . . this is similar to Hoschild's findings 20+ years ago that more traditional marriages actually split housework more evenly, because men were more inclined to be chivalrous.  Interesting stuff.   

Kathleen Gerson has a new book out that examines the gap between young people's ideas about how the division of labor should and will be and what the structural realities end up pushing them towards... maybe she'd be an interesting P4P speaker someday?

(from her website:)
Kathleen’s most recent book, The Unfinished Revolution: How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work, and Gender in America (Oxford University Press, 2010), addresses a new generation’s experiences growing up amid changing families and blurring gender boundaries. The Unfinished Revolution shows how irreversible but incomplete change has created a growing clash between new egalitarian ideals and resistant social institutions. Although young women and men hope to fashion flexible, egalitarian gender strategies, they are falling back on less desirable options that are fostering a new gender divide between “self-reliant” women and “neo-traditional” men. The solution to these 21st century conundrums is to finish the gender revolution by creating more flexible, egalitarian workplaces and more child-supportive communities.

On the other hand, the bloggers at Equally Shared Parenting encourage us to push harder and make it happen, now.