Perspective: Peter Wilson on homework vs housework


Women may be making advances in the workforce, but they are still doing more of the domestic chores.

More and more adult workers are now working from home, given the enabling nature of the current global digital business revolution. For many workers, it also makes sense to stay at home and complete ‘independent’ work there rather than consume two to three hours a day commuting.

The pressures on families make such decisions a no-brainer, especially if your employer is empathetic and flexible. When it comes to ‘interdependent’ work, the office remains the primary and optimal location for team, management, customer and stakeholder meetings.

While 80 per cent of working age adult males from 20 to 74 years old participate in the workforce, only 65 per cent of adult females do. That female participation rate is up nearly 20 per cent since the 1970s and shows no signs of abating.

More and more women are entering the workforce after completing tertiary studies, and it is now the expectation that you should be able to balance work and home life fruitfully and effectively.

For employees with strong skills and multi-tasking expertise, working from home offers great advantages and win-win solutions for themselves and their employers. Workplace research evidence confirms this. So completing your business homework productively is an essential skill.

Furthermore, many women are becoming more highly paid than their male partners. The recently published ‘Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)’ survey from the Melbourne Institute reports that:

  • The proportion of dominant female breadwinner households has grown to 24.5 per cent.
  • Only one in three female breadwinner dependent households have children present, so there is more flexibility offered for the other two in three female breadwinner households to pursue careers.
  • In 69 per cent of households, men have the bigger salary; due in many cases to the fact that women have higher annualised rates, but work part-time.
  • Women perform on average 16 hours of housework, more than double that done by men.
  • Women also spend more time than men in running errands and caring for children.
  • The sharing of elder care, primarily ageing parents, is more equally shared between the sexes.

A long-term debate is that unpaid domestic chores are not valued in our GDP. Some groups, like The Women’s Alliance, have estimated GDP would be 50–60 per cent higher if domestic unpaid work was valued. But it isn’t and there is still a stigma in the minds of many males in doing their share of chores.

As one of the HILDA study authors, professor Mark Wooden, commented: “Key planks of the nation’s social and labour market practices were developed in the 20th century on the ‘male breadwinner’ model’.” That’s true, but it’s a 20th century model that is continuously changing.

There is little doubt most males aspire to do the majority share of total paid work of the household, which helps them avoid the majority of household chores. In many instances, women do the majority of paid work in the household so they can keep up their majority share of the unpaid housework – even when they are the breadwinner.

Many of these women now complain about this inequity. And rightly so.

With longer life expectancy, women will continue to pursue financially providing for themselves, independently. The quiet gender revolution at work is confronting the old male breadwinner paradigm. Men should get the message to do more housework, and share the load – as well as they do on elder care.

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Perspective: Peter Wilson on homework vs housework


Women may be making advances in the workforce, but they are still doing more of the domestic chores.

More and more adult workers are now working from home, given the enabling nature of the current global digital business revolution. For many workers, it also makes sense to stay at home and complete ‘independent’ work there rather than consume two to three hours a day commuting.

The pressures on families make such decisions a no-brainer, especially if your employer is empathetic and flexible. When it comes to ‘interdependent’ work, the office remains the primary and optimal location for team, management, customer and stakeholder meetings.

While 80 per cent of working age adult males from 20 to 74 years old participate in the workforce, only 65 per cent of adult females do. That female participation rate is up nearly 20 per cent since the 1970s and shows no signs of abating.

More and more women are entering the workforce after completing tertiary studies, and it is now the expectation that you should be able to balance work and home life fruitfully and effectively.

For employees with strong skills and multi-tasking expertise, working from home offers great advantages and win-win solutions for themselves and their employers. Workplace research evidence confirms this. So completing your business homework productively is an essential skill.

Furthermore, many women are becoming more highly paid than their male partners. The recently published ‘Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)’ survey from the Melbourne Institute reports that:

  • The proportion of dominant female breadwinner households has grown to 24.5 per cent.
  • Only one in three female breadwinner dependent households have children present, so there is more flexibility offered for the other two in three female breadwinner households to pursue careers.
  • In 69 per cent of households, men have the bigger salary; due in many cases to the fact that women have higher annualised rates, but work part-time.
  • Women perform on average 16 hours of housework, more than double that done by men.
  • Women also spend more time than men in running errands and caring for children.
  • The sharing of elder care, primarily ageing parents, is more equally shared between the sexes.

A long-term debate is that unpaid domestic chores are not valued in our GDP. Some groups, like The Women’s Alliance, have estimated GDP would be 50–60 per cent higher if domestic unpaid work was valued. But it isn’t and there is still a stigma in the minds of many males in doing their share of chores.

As one of the HILDA study authors, professor Mark Wooden, commented: “Key planks of the nation’s social and labour market practices were developed in the 20th century on the ‘male breadwinner’ model’.” That’s true, but it’s a 20th century model that is continuously changing.

There is little doubt most males aspire to do the majority share of total paid work of the household, which helps them avoid the majority of household chores. In many instances, women do the majority of paid work in the household so they can keep up their majority share of the unpaid housework – even when they are the breadwinner.

Many of these women now complain about this inequity. And rightly so.

With longer life expectancy, women will continue to pursue financially providing for themselves, independently. The quiet gender revolution at work is confronting the old male breadwinner paradigm. Men should get the message to do more housework, and share the load – as well as they do on elder care.

Leave a reply

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