The Chore Scoreboard: Men vs Women, 21 to 210

210 to 21--women vs men. That looks like a big win for women, but, of course, to interpret these numbers you need to know what is being measured. These tallies are the number of household chores that a Japanese wife and husband recorded doing regularly (the wife used a spreadsheet) to examine their division of labor (story reported in NYT May 17, 2020). This is disparate division of labor is not just an issue for this Japanese couple. In the United States women also still bear a greater share of domestic and caring responsibilities. One of the women leaders I interviewed for my new book, TIME’S NOW for Women Healthcare Leaders: A Guide for the Journey, noted that women are the CFO, CMO and Chief Transportation Officer in the home. They are also the COO and head of Human Resources—so many hats make for a remarkably high number on the chores scoreboard.

A Time Magazine poll showed that just like with the Japanese couple, men underestimate the degree to which women did more of the household work. Men estimated that women did 20 to 40% more work, but in reality, they do about 67% more. This higher domestic workload is true even for professional women. A survey of 1000 pediatricians showed that women were more likely to have primary responsibility for 13 of 16 household jobs.

This difference in workload is quite dramatic regarding the care of children and other family members. Women are much more likely to be involved in the healthcare choices for their children including taking them to the doctors (women 75% of the time vs men 20% of the time) and being the ones staying home with a sick child (women 40% vs men 10%). In fact, the childcare and household work add up to an additional 8.5 hours of work per week for women physicians than for their male partners. In addition, women make up 75% of the caregivers for family members.

While this family care giving can provide great satisfaction and rewards, it is a social good that should be acknowledged and accommodated so that the score looks more like a tie game!

This and other issues of equity and equality are discussed in detail in my book, TIME’S NOW for Women Healthcare Leaders: A Guide for the Journey.

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