Men clean up in avoiding chores

January 23, 2004

Men appear to have reached their limit when it comes to housework, with women shouldering more than 70 per cent of household and caring responsibilities, writes Olga Wojtas.

Ulster University researchers Gillian Robinson and Ann Marie Gray have found that although an increasing number of women go out to work, they do an average of more than 17 hours of housework a week, excluding childcare, compared with fewer than six hours for men.

The researchers investigated a series of Northern Ireland social surveys from 1994 to 2002, but Dr Gray said comparisons with the British Household Panel Survey suggested that the rest of the UK would be no better.

Northern Ireland's surveys in the 1990s had shown men developing a more positive attitude towards home life, she said, but the latest survey showed no improvement. "We were a bit surprised that this didn't follow on at all," Dr Gray said.

The only significant contribution men made in the home was repairing things, while women did the bulk of the laundry, cleaning and cooking, shopping for groceries and looking after sick family members.

This is despite 52 per cent of men admitting that they ought to do a larger share of the housework, a view endorsed by 72 per cent of women. "Men think men should do more. I suppose in a way that's positive," said Dr Gray.

But they may be able to avoid their responsibilities because women are reluctant to take a tougher line with them. The research found that 44 per cent of respondents said they never disagreed about sharing housework and another 28 per cent said they rarely disagreed.

Dr Gray said: "(Women) don't think it's fair but they're settling for a peaceful and tranquil household."

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