Men Doing Housework: Are Ground Realities Changing for Women?
It takes more than a pandemic to bring about a fundamental change in the gender division of work defined by patriarchal norms. But it may be the start of a new season when the gender psyche is changing. Young men who embraced equality but refused to vacuum now are hands-on helping the working women, who are now juggling household duties between work from home and not the other way around.
Women are not only managing home but have no breather as they are not only shouldering more of the childcare and household work but also managing their work.
I am a firm believer of flexible working and have always loved the idea of working from home, but with the pandemic amongst the numerous things we had to adapt to, this was something sudden and not everyone was prepared for. Suddenly everyone was home, schools were closed, all the domestic helpers stopped coming since everyone was concerned for their safety. So here comes the challenge literally juggling work/home and the never-ending chores. From cooking to cleaning to entertaining a toddler and ensuring he attends his Zoom class it was just too hectic, amongst all of this I always had to squeeze in a workout, so basically everyday, I was hustling. At work, schedules were taken for granted since we were “home’ all the time. But suddenly I see all the men around me stepping up- from my husband, to father to brothers and partners everyone chipped in and it was literally “divide and conquer”.
Thanks to this pandemic, for teaching us to have an egalitarian sharing of responsibilities. Remember the time when men lost jobs in the Great Recession of 2008 and took on more work at home, many began to move away from the breadwinner identity and reported more meaning as active and engaged fathers.
Väter GmBH, a Germany-based organisation supporting fathers ran a quick survey to gauge the current sentiment by fathers. To the question about returning to work post-pandemic, 68 percent of the respondents said they would like to continue combining work from home with office-based working, 1-2 days per week, and 67 percent of respondents would like their employer to continue with flexible working hours. This experience should embolden and empower men to open up to their employers and affirm this newfound emancipation for being equal carers at home.
Empowering men is directly proportional to empowering women and shrinking the gender pay gap and this crisis seems to be cementing traditional gender roles. Gender equality is not just about economic empowerment. It is a moral imperative because gender inequality means not only foregoing the important contributions that women make to the economy but also wasting years of investment in educating girls and young women. Making the most of the talent pool ensures that men and women have an equal chance to contribute both at home and in the workplace, thereby enhancing their well-being and that of society. In interviews Harvard Business Review conducted for their forthcoming book, Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace (which will be published in October 2020), women mentioned that gender equity starts at home and it leads to a trilogy of benefits.
First, women with equal partners at home are more successful professionally. Second, fathers who share equal domestic responsibilities are role model equity for the kids by shaping expectations of their future workforce. And finally, men who equally share unpaid work at home are confident to ask about why they need flexibility at their work is a necessity.
An FMCG company which is using ‘Share the Load’ as a campaign that showcases the impact of unequal division of household chores is a message to men to drive an urgency to act. They started the campaign way before the pandemic hit us but in today’s unprecedented situation its time the load is shared on equal shoulders.
This article has been co-written by Jaayaa and Pushmeet. Jaayaa A Kumarr is a lawyer by qualification and a marketer by profession. Pushmeet Sodhi is Head of Account Managment at Pocketmath. The views expressed are the authors’ own. Have an opinion and want to share it? Send over to email@example.com