I wish I could say I was at all surprised by this article in the New York Times reporting that women are disproportionately taking on the bulk of household responsibilities during lockdown, even though men think they’re doing more. But I’m not. I’m more surprised this even qualifies as news, actually!
Would you believe it if I told you that a poll found that 70 percent of women say they are fully or mostly responsible for housework during lockdown? And 66 percent say the same about child care? And that these figures basically mirror those from pre-coronavirus times? You would?
This, of course, is not how most men see it:
A much smaller share of men, about 20 percent, agree that their spouses are fully or mostly responsible for both housework and child care. About 20 percent of men say they are fully or mostly responsible for these tasks during lockdown. Only around 2 percent of women agree. Past research using time diaries has consistently shown that men often overestimate the amount they do, and that women do more.
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As we already know, the added time that women spend on housework and child care is a major factor behind income disparities and curtailed careers. Now, these chores are taking up even more time thanks to the pandemic, and the effects could be lasting:
“Being forced to be at home is amplifying the differences we already know exist,” said Barbara Risman, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and part of a group of sociologists who analyzed the data. “What terrifies me for the future is if it will push women out of the labor force in a way that will be very hard to overcome.”
Even though these are differences are based on perceptions, it’s worth noting that the data backs what women say. And while being stuck inside presents a golden opportunity for men to confront firsthand just how much unpaid labor the women in their lives are taking on, the unfortunate reality is that they probably...won’t.