Sexism still reigns behind closed doors as new study reveals women do most of the housework in 93 per cent of British homes
- Nearly half of men do less than five hours of chores a week, new study reveals
- The study of 8,500 British couples found women are still more likely to lose out
- Women still do more housework than men in 93 per cent of British households
- When women do escape heavy lifting, it’s because they’re the main breadwinner
The great dispute over who does the household chores has for decades fuelled the battle of the sexes.
But even in our age of gender equality, it is women who are still far more likely to lose out.
For they do more housework than men in 93 per cent of British households, a study has revealed.
And even when both partners work full-time, women are five times more likely to spend 20 or more hours a week doing housework than men.
The study of more than 8,500 British couples also found that, when children have grown up and left home, nearly half of men get away with doing less than five hours of chores a week – compared with only 8 per cent of women.
And when women do manage to escape the heavy lifting it is because they are the main breadwinner – though this only occurs in 7 per cent of households.
The great dispute over who does the household chores has for decades fuelled the battle of the sexes. But even in our age of gender equality, it is women who are still far more likely to lose out [File photo]
Professor Anne McMunn, who led the University College London study, said: ‘These results matter because this is extra work which women are doing for free – as housework is unpaid. We don’t think this is an active choice on the part of men to try to keep women down.
‘But even these days it still tends to be the case that if there is something which needs doing in the home, women just do it.’
She said couples tend to follow patterns set by parents when they are growing up, but added: ‘This has been described as a ‘second shift’ for women, who come home from work and start doing more in the form of household chores.’
Though it comes as no surprise that women bear most of the burden of housework, the researchers attempted to discover why this is.
They split couples into eight groups based on answers regarding employment, housework and caring responsibilities submitted to the 2010-11 UK Household Longitudinal study, which is completed by thousands each year.
The largest group – around two in five couples – was made up of young full-time ‘dual earners’, who researchers expected would be most likely to share the burden equally.
In fact, 16 per cent of women in this group spent 20-plus hours of their week on housework, compared with 3 per cent of men.
The study of more than 8,500 British couples also found that, when children have grown up and left home, nearly half of men get away with doing less than five hours of chores a week – compared with only 8 per cent of women [File photo]
The second largest group comprised couples made up of men in full-time work and women in part-time work or unemployment –almost three-quarters of whom had young children.
As well as taking on the bulk of the childcare, more than half of these women did 20-plus hours of chores a week. By contrast, nearly two-thirds of their male partners did less than five.
Among couples in their fifties and sixties, 44 per cent of women did 20 or more hours.
The study, published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, found chores were only shared equally in the 6 per cent of couples in which women are the main earners or the 1 per cent where men are ‘stay-at-home’ husbands and had taken early retirement.
Professor McMunn said: ‘Men still earn more than women, on average, and that gives them a little more leverage in terms of negotiating housework.
‘Things are not changing as fast in the domestic sphere as we might have thought, so we need to raise awareness and think a bit more about it.’