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Women Are More Stressed at Home Than at Work

Illustration for article titled Women Are More Stressed at Home Than at Work

There is a new study that validates the thought that passes through our minds on Sunday nights after spending the weekend with our families: God, I can't wait to get back to the office and relax.


For the study from the Council on Contemporary Families, three Penn State researchers measured people's cortisol levels—a biological marker of stress—and found it tended to be higher at home than at work. And while they found that both men and women have reduced levels at stress at work than at home, it seemed to be more apparent with women.

[W]omen may get more renewal from work than men, because unlike men, they report themselves happier at work than at home. It is men, not women, who report being happier at home than at work.


That's probably because the division of housework is still imbalanced in many families, with women taking on more chores than men. Men leave work and go home. Women leave work and go home to work some more.

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Unfortunately, Pat Mainardi's Politics of Housework is still mandatory reading on this topic. Maybe things will change eventually, but it's taking a long goddamn time.

An excerpt:

Here's my list of dirty chores: buying groceries, carting them home and putting them away; cooking meals and washing dishes and pots; doing the laundry digging out the place when things get out of control; washing floors. The list could go on but the sheer necessities are bad enough. All of us have to do these things, or get someone else to do them for us. The longer my husband contemplated these chores, the more repulsed he became, and so proceeded the change from the normally sweet, considerate Dr. Jekyll into the crafty Mr. Hyde who would stop at nothing to avoid the horrors of-housework. As he felt himself backed into a comer laden with dirty dishes, brooms, mops and reeking garbage, his front teeth grew longer and pointier, his fingernails haggled and his eyes grew wild. Housework trivial? Not on your life! Just try to share the burden.

So ensued a dialogue that's been going on for several years. Here are some of the high points: "I don't mind sharing the housework, but I don't do it very well. We should each do the things we're best at." MEANING: Unfortunately I'm no good at things like washing dishes or cooking. What I do best is a little light carpentry, changing light bulbs, moving furniture (how often do you move furniture?). ALSO MEANING: Historically the lower classes (black men and us) have had hundreds of years experience doing menial jobs. It would be a waste of manpower to train someone else to do them now. ALSO MEANING: I don't like the dull, stupid, boring jobs, so you should do them.

"I don' t mind sharing the work, but you'll have to show me how to do it." MEANING: I ask a lot of questions and you'll have to show me everything every time I do it because I don't remember so good. Also don' t try to sit down and read while I'M doing my jobs because I'm going to annoy hell out of you until it's easier to do them yourself."