Gendered housework patterns persist even if mum is the breadwinner
Photo: Josh Davis. Creative Commons.

Gendered patterns of housework persist even when the mother is the breadwinner

By Child & Family Blog Editor and , | January 2017 

Breadwinning mothers do more housework and childcare on their days off than breadwinning fathers do.


Gendered patterns of housework persist between full-time breadwinning mothers and full-time breadwinning fathers. Policy makers promoting gender equality should take into account the pervasive nature of gendered expectations for parents, even when they adopt nontraditional roles.

Noelle Chesley at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found in a recent study that mothers who work longer hours reduce the time they spend on workday childcare less than fathers who work longer hours do. Chesley studied data from the 2008-2012 American Time Use Survey.

Breadwinning mothers also do more housework and childcare on their days off than breadwinning fathers do. Indeed, on days off, breadwinning mothers do as much housework and childcare as at-home mothers do; breadwinning fathers do less of both than their at-home counterparts.

Meanwhile, at-home mothers do more housework and spend more time with their children than at-home fathers do, and the types of housework each does still tends to involve gender stereotypical male and female activities.

Nevertheless, the status quo is being disrupted. Evidence is growing that breadwinning mothers are starting to take their work and career planning more seriously and at-home fathers are doing more stereotypically female housework tasks than breadwinning fathers do, even on days off.


Chesley N & Flood S (2016), Signs of change? At-home and breadwinner parents’ housework and child-care time, Journal of Marriage and Family

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