Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Men! What you can do to improve the lot of women in academia


The vexed issue of women in academia has been much in the news lately: first there was a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the disproportionate number of women who leave science, and then there was a letter signed by over 50 high-profile academics urging universities to reconsider criteria for promotion to professor, on the grounds that current criteria overlook activities that women value more than men.

I will watch with interest to see whether this proposal is taken seriously, and if so, what impact it has. My argument here, though, is that in addition to such institutional changes, we need to see changes in attitude at the individual level if we really want to retain talented women in academia.

Most men I know who are partners or spouses of female academics do not regard themselves as sexist or chauvinist. They value fairness in society and regard discrimination on the basis of gender or ethnicity as abhorrent. They may not always agree with specific initiatives to improve the lot of women in academic jobs, but they take the issue seriously. This desire for fairness does not always, however, translate into everyday behaviour.

This thought was prompted when I was on holiday idly watching a television channel that had a large number of commercial breaks. In most of these, there was an advertisement for Ecover cleaning products. This shows various people energetically, cheerfully, and even erotically cleaning while the song "I feel good!" plays in the background. The thing that struck me was that there were around ten adults in the advert, and, apart from a man making a bed, all of them appeared to be female. Some were accompanied by children whom they were presumably responsible for.

Now, I know that there are people who like cleaning, but in my experience they are in a minority. Most people find it tedious and tiring. And for a lot of working women, a general negative view of cleaning is exacerbated by a sense of injustice, because they live with a man who does not do his fair share. You don't have to take my word for it – there's research on this issue and it chimes with the everyday experience of many women – and indeed with the picture presented in the Ecover ad.

As a data nerd, I was delighted to find there is a large publicly accessible dataset relevant to this issue which is part of the International Social Survey Programme. Researchers have asked respondents from many countries about how much housework they do and whether it is fair. Here are some figures I extracted from the survey after filtering the set to include only those couples who were living with a spouse or partner, where both partners had a university degree, and both were working full time, which gave a total sample of just over 1000.

One question was: "On average, how many hours a week do you personally spend on household work, not including childcare and leisure time activities?"  The mean response was 7.2 hr for men and 13.0 hr for women.  (The numbers were pretty similar regardless of whether they came from male or female respondents). Another question concerned perceived fairness: on a 5-point scale, respondents rated whether they did much more than their fair share to much less than their fair share. Results are shown in the Figure below. It is clear that while many respondents were satisfied with the fairness of division of work, a sizeable proportion of women felt they did an unfair share of work, balanced by a proportion of men who recognised that they were not doing their fair share.


There was also a specific item on cleaning. Among women, 46% said they always or usually did the cleaning, compared with 7% of men. The same pattern was seen for other specific items on laundry, shopping, meal preparation and caring for sick family members. The only exception was an item on carrying out small household repairs, which men were more likely to do than women. This is noteworthy because it is one activity that can give a sense of achievement that once it is done it is done. The reason housework is such drudgery is because it needs doing continually, and any sense of pleasure in having completed it is tinged with knowledge that will need redoing again soon.

This all chimes with anecdotal experience: if you talk to women, many will tell you it is easier to do the cleaning yourself than to try and get your partner to do it, because they'll typically  do it badly so it will need doing again.  And men don't spontaneously note the need to do housework: they seem to have a kind of agnosia for filth, and so won't clean until things start to smell bad or attract vermin, and sometimes not even then.

I realise that there are men who defy the stereotypes and who are as willing to don the Marigolds as any woman (though, as was pointed out on Twitter, the sizing of rubber gloves assumes that the wearer will be female). But the statistical evidence is out there and it is stark: blokes, many of you who have a female partner are exploiting her. This applies to female academics just as much to other professions. Every hour that she spends mopping floors or cleaning toilets is an hour that she could have spent writing a paper – and the survey data suggest that if men did their fair share, she'd have an extra 3 to 4 hours per week. These effects are small but cumulative. By not doing your fair share, you are adding to the pressures that lead her to be less successful in, and ultimately to quit, academia. You might not like cleaning, but believe me, neither does she. She just does it because someone has to and it's often easier to get on and do it than to nag a reluctant partner.

Do you recognise yourself? If so, here's some advice. Do not ask your partner 'Can I help?' Although this would be a move in the right direction, it indicates that you regard it as her responsibility. Instead, look around, become alert to dirt and disorder, and when you see it, eradicate it. Not sure how to do it? You will be amazed at what you can find on the internet. Here, for instance, are complete instructions for how to wash dishes, iron a shirt, and clean a toilet.

When considering how to divide up household responsibilities, there is no one model that will be right for everyone.  Most married women of my mother's generation took it for granted that they would stay at home and take responsibility for the housework while their husband was the breadwinner. Some couples may still prefer to work that way. Other may feel they have settled upon a fair division of labour with each doing tasks they are best suited to. Another solution is to employ a cleaner. But if you are a man in a relationship with a woman who does most of the cleaning, don't assume she's doing it because she likes it. Ask her whether she thinks the amount of housework she does is fair, and if not, take action.

Background reading
Lanning, T., Laura Bradley, Darlington, R., & Gottfried, G. (2013). Great Expectations: exploring the promises of gender equality. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.

Dataset
As requested by a commenter, here is a link to the dataset that I used to derive the figure (after filtering the data as explained above).

48 comments:

  1. The best way to tackle this is to do what my Mum, a Catholic working mother with 6 kids (and believe me, no feminist), did in the 1970's, and that is to allocate tasks to the kids, irrespective of gender. I cleaned 8 pairs of show twice a week and did the baking on Sundays while the family was at church. These days I find cleaning weirdly satisfying; maybe I'm an outlier.

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    1. I think you are an outlier, but I'm sure you are much valued!

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  2. So true that the "second shift" impacts much more on women than on men, and I write as one of the more fortunate with respect to the sharing of the load. I've observed in friends though, that there can be different interpretations of what a "fair" share is - with equity and equality not necessarily being the same thing, depending on subjective views of how hard one or other partner believes s/he is working.

    I'm all for out-sourcing cleaning, but that doesn't take away the need for day-to-day squalor-vigilance and early intervention.

    Perhaps our best hope lies in how mothers of sons socialise the next generation. In the meantime, there's no doubt that a wife is an excellent investment for academics wanting to find that extra 3-4 hrs a week.

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  3. Great article! I have been aware of this inequality for some time: the kind of material feminist analysis I gravitate towards hinges on this exploitation of women by men around housework. But I never saw anything on academics specifically. Technical questions: is there any similar data that is not based on self-report ?

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    1. I couldn't find data specifically for academics, but the analysed data came from people with university degrees where both worked full time, which is as close as I could get to typical academic setup.
      Self-report is potentially problematic, but the validity of the data seem confirmed by the good agreement between the male and female respondents in terms of how many hours of housework were done and whether or not they were doing their fair share.

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  4. "in addition to such institutional changes, we need to see changes in attitude at the individual level"

    Great article. And yes, I'm guilty of this:

    "blokes, many of you who have a female partner are exploiting her"

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  5. Wasn't there a recent article on expectations of what constitutes "fair share" from each partner's perspective? Some of us are happy to live with dishes piling up, a shower with calk, etc. while for others this is an unacceptable situation. So, to be scientific about it, it would seem that the first order of business is to list all the tasks and then define triggers for those tasks, then assign the tasks. Take gender right out of the equation.

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    1. In this survey, though, the male and female responses meshed pretty well - see the donut plots. The proportion of men who accepted that they weren't doing their fair share was similar to the proportion of women who reckoned they were doing more than their fair share. So while I can see that people vary in terms of what they regard as necessary, I think that's a side-issue. The big point is to get those men who know they aren't doing their fair share to recognise that this has important consequences for women (in contrast to what Anonymous - below - says!)

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    2. Ah, yes, I did omit the last, vital, part of the prescription: the consequences for failing to act on the triggers. What are the options? What tools are available to help those in relationships (of any sort) to complete the tasks as agreed? I spend a lot of time thinking about processes, but processes in personal relationships are the toughest of all!

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    3. The question asked of men was with regard to "fair share". The poll did not ask men whether they thought the overall amount of housework done was to their liking. PracticalFMRI is correct. Most men have a different thermostat setting for cleanliness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It appears Deevy is being judgemental in that respect.

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    4. See my comment below. Do men have different thermostat settings for eating, shopping or tending for sick children?

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  6. "[B]lokes, many of you who have a female partner are exploiting her. [...] Every hour that she spends mopping floors or cleaning toilets is an hour that she could have spent writing a paper."

    Could you *be* revelling more in your self-righteous role of the ultimate victim? Just suck it up, talk to your husband, hire a cleaner, but stop blaming the fact that you're not publishing a paper on the fact that you're cleaning a toilet, for crying out loud.

    Do you not understand how ludicrous this all sounds? Men should feel universal guilt because we are 'making you clean the toilet instead of writing a paper'? How far from reality are you? Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. The times when it was borderline accepted for husbands to force their wives into submission are long gone. It's the 21st century, for fuck's sake, we're all adults and on equal terms. Just make your relationship work instead of demonizing 'men' as the ones who are totally holding you back.

    So petty.

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    1. Dear Anonymous
      You miss the point. Pettiness is what it is all about. Everyone is talking about the big changes that institutions can do to improve the lot of women, but if the average woman is doing around 6 hr per week more housework than her partner, this adds up and will impact on the time she has to do her job. I don't see why you regard this as 'ludicrous'.
      You say we're all "adults and on equal terms". Yet in this survey around 40% of well-educated men with wives in full-time employment admitted that they did less than their fair share. No, the men aren't forcing the women to do housework, but someone has to do it and cleaners cost money. If men don't spontaneously do their bit, then women have some stark choices: they can go on strike and live in squalor, they can spend their hard-earned cash on a cleaner, they can nag their partner – hardly conducive to a good relationship, or they can just take the line of least resistance, and get on with it. The survey data suggest that most do that.

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    2. I'm concerned by your implication that freeing up more of women's non-work time for them to do work in would be desirable. I think you should be encouraging everybody to do their job during their contracted 37.5 hours, not during their free time.

      If working beyond these hours is *necessary* to get promotion than we have a serious problem which causes problems for both genders equally.

      The UCU statement on workload is helpful:
      http://workload.web.ucu.org.uk/joint-statement/

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    3. Deevy

      It's simple. Stop doing the work that your mate doesn't want done or done so frequently,

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    4. Does that extend to meal preparation, buying groceries, looking after sick family members - all things that have a similar pattern of the work being done much more commonly by the woman in a male-female household?

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    5. Perhaps the answer is that women (or men) shouldn't date someone who doesn't pull his or her weight around the house. I'm content to live in squalor, do no exercise, and eat quick and easy pasta dishes (which is what I did before my current relationship). But my partner is not. And we can't afford a cleaner or cook, and we don't have room for a dishwasher. So I can let her work 9-7, come home, and then do the cooking and housework, while I analyse data and write up papers, but I think it's much nicer if we negotiate a way of life that we are both content (even happy?) with. I find clean clothes when I wake up in the morning, have great dinners, and do Pilates and other activities with my girlfriend. It's not what I'd choose to do if I was single, but it's something that makes me happy, and I think it's important to build a life that both partners can enjoy, not just one. I doubt whether anyone wants to do more than his or her fair share of work, so maybe anyone in this position should be encouraged to find someone less selfish? Just a thought.

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    6. "If men don't spontaneously do their bit, then women have some stark choices: they can go on strike and live in squalor, they can spend their hard-earned cash on a cleaner, they can nag their partner"

      Or. You can just stop acting as if you and/or your partners are babies that are incapable of an adult conversation, and you sit down and make the right arrangements.

      You presumably chose to marry this man because he was right for you, because you communicated on the same level, and because you understood each other. So why is it *so* difficult to talk to someone if you feel they're not doing their fair share?

      This is nothing like 'hidden discrimination', this is not like 'lack of emancipation in the institute of marriage', or whatever big thing you want to make out of this. This is just a small issue in the way you run your household. You deal with it like adults.

      Stop acting as if you're the victim of some inhumane crime that you have no simple control over. It's impressive how you can spin an easily resolvable non-issue like this into some big story about how women are always the victim.

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    7. I just re-read what I wrote, and realise I wasn't clear.

      It's a bit simplistic to say that your partner should do whatever she wants (e.g., clean the dishes), as long as it doesn't infringe on your right to live in squalor. The problem is that you're infringing on her right to live in a clean environment, as much as she's infringing on your right to live in squalor.

      A relationship is about two people, not one. You need to think about what your partner wants, as well as what you want. When I was living on my own, I would create a mess - books, papers, clothes, plates, cutlery, everywhere. It's unfair to expect your partner to clean up after you, to cook your food, do the dishes, and so on, just because she wants to live in a clean environment and you want to live in a dirty one.

      In a relationship, if one partner wants to live in squalor and the other partner doesn't, then the two should either agree on a sensible solution /way of life or compromise and meet in the middle... or maybe she should leave and find someone less selfish.

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    8. I think the problem is that in a sexist society, there is an implicit expectation for women to do the housework, and thus women often have to actually persuade their men help them (rather than it being a given).

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    9. I think men have an important role in reducing sexism in this (and in any other) society, rather than it being 'the woman's job'.

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    10. Anonymous: please see my reply to myT Chondria below. And please don't put words into my mouth. I did not characterise women as victims of an inhumane crime. I described some survey data which documented a common pattern of inequality that seems surprising given that we are in 2014.
      This gets neglected because everyone thinks it is a small issue. I am making the point that over time the small issues add up.
      Re discussing with ones spouse, there are some good examples on the comments on this post of the kind of arguments adopted by a man reluctant to do housework.

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  7. Not really the main point of your article, but I found the THE letter mentioned at the start really baffling. In it the signatories argue that "teaching, administration and public engagement" should count more in promotion criteria than they currently do because women engage in them more than men.

    But surely we should value these activities because they are inherently valuable, not because women do them more than men? Suppose in ten years time it transpired that women no longer did more public engagement than men, then would the activity lose it's value? Of course not.

    Seeing absolutely everything through the lens of gender is not always helpful.

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    1. I think those writing the letter would agree that the activities are inherently valuable. But their importance emerged from a consideration of why the proportion of women declines as one advances through an academic career. So I think this is a case where examining career progression through the lens of gender actually has been helpful - in identifying undervalued activities that should be given credit whether the person doing them is male or female.

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  8. The following report by Londa Schiebinger from the US is relevant here: Housework is an academic issue http://www.aaup.org/article/housework-academic-issue#.UwzAJ85KRrA. It's fairly old now, but I don't suppose things have changed radically. In it she says in her introduction 'Findings from our study, based on data collected in 2006–07, show that despite women’s considerable gains in science in recent decades, female scientists do nearly twice as much housework as their male counterparts. '

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  9. Goof to have some data on this contentious issue. Perhaps it is good to be reminded that even small things can make a difference. So, here's my little tip for men who like cooking and think of a meal they prepare as a valuable contribution increasing their share of housework: simply keep cleaning up during the preparation. It is possible to make everything look tidy afterwards, and that may be the best part of the contribution.

    Other things being equal, I have always campaigned for academics to throw money at housework and general cleaning, and get as much paid help as they can.

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    1. Cleaners are not an option for (most) young academics.

      I agree that it's about making habits (cleaning up as you go along is a great tip).

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  10. I (a male) do the majority of the cooking and cleaning at home so can give a guilt free reply.
    As someone who spent his early manhood in the Army I know that all men, with very little prompting, are capable of cooking, cleaning and Ironing to a higher standard than you will ever get from a cleaner or any other paid help. Our home exceptions were that I was not allowed to iron my children’s school uniform; razor sharp creases in (primary) school trousers make a child look “different” apparently. I also know the difference between feeling ill and being ill, and unless there was a visible, substantial quantity of snot or blood the kids were, in my book, well and thus should go to school. My wife often preferred to give them the benefit of the doubt and chose to take a day off work.
    If you look at two car families, I think that you will see that the man’s car will usually be the cleanest, inside and out, and walking around the local allotments, the tidiest and best kept are usually male owned.
    Look around an entirely male staffed Coca-Cola factory, around a barracks, or walk around the Rolls Royce (95% male) shopfloor and you will always see immaculate workspaces. Your comment that men “…seem to have a kind of agnosia for filth, and so won't clean until things start to smell bad or attract vermin, and sometimes not even then.” is bordering on misandry.
    The unfair division of the workload is I believe, down to the different ways in which men and women communicate. I am one of three brothers. I went to two boys boarding schools, spent nearly 15 years in the Army, and I am the father of two sons and I do think that I understand how to get the best out of men. In my experience the language that you use to get men to understand things is different to the language that you use to get men to do things. Women seem reluctant to use the latter, either at work or at home, but it is no harder to say “please start the washing up” rather than “the kitchen is full of dirty dishes”. It is the first comment is the one that is effective. Getting blokes to do unhealthily large amounts of work, domestic or otherwise, is actually dangerously easy.

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    1. Sorry for the misandry. There are exceptions, I know, but the existence of those who have a high 'threshold for cleaning' is evident among some commentators.

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  11. Seems not much has changed in the 25 years since "The Second Shift" was published, except that men are more likely to admit that they don't do their fair share!

    I personally thank my lucky stars every day that I have a partner who does at least his fair share, because there is no way that I could be even remotely successful without his equal contribution. But I am always surprised amongst academic colleagues just how many are in more traditional arrangements, where the women pick up the greater responsibility for housekeeping / childcare / etc.

    I don't think those imbalances are right, and I personally couldn't stand for it. But while there are costs for women who need to do the second shift, I think there are also costs for men who choose to be full partners. Particularly in the private sector, I wonder whether men who stay home to care for a sick child are looked on in the same way as women who do this ("can't your wife do it?" is a line that springs to mind). I certainly feel that my husband's career has suffered because of choices like this.

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  12. There is no logical reason why both man and women should do an equal amount of house work. If men express guilt it could easily be a result of a pre-arrangement where men do less due to longer hours worked. Guilt does not equal injustice. Further more the lack of a sex balance amongst professors is no less discrimination then the lack of a balance among carpenters.

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  13. Based on the data in the pie charts about equal proportions of men and women think they do their fair share of housework. The bit less for men is about equal to the bit more for women. The extreme ends of the spectrum seem to cover only a small share of respondents. There also doesn't seem to be a huge difference in perceptions between men and women, though there is a small one at the extremes. In our household I do all the cleaning and my wife does all the cooking (more or less). We are each best at those things. We share the other tasks about equally too. She does most food shopping (sometimes we go together to shop, occasionally I buy stuff), I do most other needed household stuff. We each wash our own clothes (I do ironing).

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  14. What the fresh hell are you saying?? Why on Earth would I need to concern my colleagues with my non-existent angst about laundry? No kitten, just no. You do not get to entitle a blog "Men! What you can do to improve the lot of women in academia" and rant about chores. My home life is my problem. I've got that shitte.
    What I don't have is having women absent from symposiums, talks, review committees and awards. What I don't have is misogynistic editors like Henry Gee at Nature ranting, threatening and underrepresenting women in his peer review process. That's what men in academia can do to help me. Who, other than you, cares about household chores. Figure that crap out in your house. Or marry someone different. Or by a Roomba. But get a totally fuckking different name for your blog title because I'm embarassed that you would believe this crappe advice would be anything other than horrifying to me as a female in academics. @mytochondria on the twitters.

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    1. Well, I'm sorry to have horrified you, but, needless to say, I disagree.
      You seem to be arguing that because there are big structural issues that affect women in academia, they are the only things we should concentrate on. We already have a lot of focus on those in the UK and there has been some improvement. I've been involved in the Athena Swan initiative in my department, which has led to some positive changes - see http://www.athenaswan.org.uk/. Yet we still see a LOT of good women leave the field at around postdoc stage. We've been asking why. At this career stage, it's actually not about perceptions of gender bias or promotion difficulties. Most women are oblivious to this until they get further along the career path. It's largely about exhaustion and not having enough time to do the research they are passionate about.
      Furthermore, I see two serious flaws in your argument. First, you don't seem to think there's any connection between how men behave at home and the attitudes that they take to work. We know, from numerous sociological surveys, that feminism has a long way to go. Yes, women have gained the right to work, and to equal pay, but there is still a widespread perception that they are responsible for housework. This is not a private matter to sort out between adults: it's an attitude that pervades society, reinforced by things like the Ecover ad. You make out this is my individual problem: yet around 40% of educated, employed women around the world are stating it is an issue for them. Sure, they could get a divorce, but many don't want that. They just want equality. Yes you could have a mature discussion with your partner, but many partners would not respond by just getting on with it and doing their fair share: instead they'd start arguing about 'thresholds' and suchlike (see other comments).
      Second, I find it remarkable that, in couples where there is an imbalance in who does the work, you think it is up to the woman to address the problem. I think it is exactly this kind of attitude that preserves the status quo. The whole point of my post was to encourage men take some initiative. My bottom line is that we know from the research that there are a lot of men who freely admit they don't do their fair share. They need to understand that if they want to be regarded as decent human beings, it's time to change.

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  15. Seriously - Women (still) often experience sexism at every step of the process of getting ahead in academia - on hiring committees, tenure committees, from editors at journals; women are underrepresented or absent as speakers at major conferences; and ask any woman in academia about her experience w/ sexual harassment and most will have at least one story - and your answer to the problem is men should do more housework! How my husband and I handle our home and family is no one's business but our own. I have seen a PI wonder if a candidate would handle job responsibilities and having kids since her husband was a busy resident (so clearly she would be doing all the child care). The problem isn't how we juggle jobs and child care (or laundry) the problem is the sexism implicit in asking such a question.

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    1. "Every hour that she spends mopping floors or cleaning toilets is an hour that she could have spent writing a paper"

      ...or an hour that she could have spent relaxing from a hard day's work.

      I thought that the point of this post is the following:

      "in addition to such institutional changes, we need to see changes in attitude at the individual level if we really want to retain talented women in academia."

      Surely this is an important point?

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    2. Thanks Dean. I've tried to re-explain it above, but am not optimistic that will make any impact.

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  17. The issue here is not whether men are lazy and overburdening women with housework, which could be the case (or not). The real problem is that this should have absolutely no impact in anybody's career. Because after you come back from work you shouldn't be trying to squeeze time out of any duty or pleasure in order to keep writing papers and running in the threadmill so you don't lose your job or fail to get one.

    We have reached a point where we have lengthy discussions about how to keep women in academia in spite of their (maybe) different priorities in life, but fail to realise that 80 hours of work per week is absolutely crazy for anybody, either men or women. You should not have to let work invade your private life to the point of arguing whether your husband not cleaning the toilet will keep you from churning out enough papers to survive. And it is certainly not what is written in your contract. But we are alienated enough and we have swallowed so hard this way to do things that we are willing to let go of our private life.

    If you do a fine job during the 40 hours per week you have assigned to do it, then you should not be concerned about having an argument with your husband because he does not clean the toilet and you need yet another paper for your career to survive. Perhaps the argument should be that you want him to clean because you want to read a book, watch a movie, or do whatever you enjoy doing in your free time (which most certainly isn't cleaning toilets).

    Yet, with this post, you seem to turn this into a matter of career life/death. And by thinking that the blame for that is on your significant other, even in the tiniest bit, you are absolutely mistaken. The blame is, and has always been, in a system which has managed to hire people to do (for free) the work of two (or more) employees. If you want to double the output, just hire another person and let people live and clean their toilets in peace. Lots of people (men and women) have fought and died so that we could have 40 hours work weeks, yet here we are, wondering how we can handle household tasks so we can double that amount of time. Seems ridiculous to me, really.

    By the way, yes, I do think that men in general fail to do their share of housework. In my personal experience, usually this is due to laziness combined with a higher tolerance to dirt and messiness. Sometimes I just do not understand what my wife is cleaning anymore. My take is that this is something that needs to be solved by talking and reaching a peaceful agreement, since usually is not problem because you love and respect the other. I also want to note that unfair division of housework does not only arise between men and women, but also (for example) between men, when they share living spaces and have different attitudes towards cleaning.

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    1. Thanks for this perspective.
      I agree that it would be wrong if women felt obliged to use time released from housework to write papers etc. You need to understand that my perspective is that of someone who loves the research side of the job, including analysing data, reading and writing papers, and so on. I enjoy spending time on these things and do so from choice. I would be upset if someone told me I could not do this for more than 40 hr per week.
      My impression is that many people who go into the field for the same reason end up feeling that they never have time for the good bits of the job, because time is squeezed out by tedious stuff. So I was writing as if the woman in question, freed from her toilet-cleaning, would actually feel joy at the prospect of paper writing.
      I do realise this is not a perspective shared by everyone (!) and that there is a serious issue of exploiting people and expecting them to work crazy hours. Sorry to have got that issue muddled up with the more basic one of fairness. I think it is important.
      And finally, I'm sure you are right about conflict over housework for single-sex couples with different standards (reminded of the Odd Couple). BUT, there's a real difference for opposite-sex couples, which is that it is highly likely that both of them have been brought up to think that housework is women's work, and that is a well-entrenched schema that it can be difficult to overcome, even if one can accept intellectually that it is wrong.

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  18. Thanks for a great post!
    I agree with you that there is a lot that can be done on an individual level and at home when it comes to gender balance, but I think it is also important to remeber that much can be done also on a societal level. I come from a scandinavian country, and here the father has to take at least 3.5 months parental leave during the babys first year, otherwise the family looses the payment for this. I think this has been a very important step. The baby from very early on gets used to that the father is an equal caregiver as the mother, and after going back to work it becomes easier to share not only the joys of parenthood, but also the responsibilities. I think this has made it much easier for women that often have children when they are post docs to stay in academia. Although I am sure this is not the whole explanation, the figure for female professors is steadily increasing here and is now about 25%

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  19. Deevybee

    Hmm. Usually academic bloggers driven by data link to the data in the original study. I find no link to the study here. You linked to the ISSP website and an article by Lanning but I don't find this pie chart or the data or the questions asked at either link. Would you please provide the link?

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  20. I downloaded the data and did the analysis. I have added a link from which you can access the specific dataset.
    You have to register but this is straightforward.
    NB The data file is very well documented and gives all the questions; it is important to read the documentation, as some things are not obvious. E.g. Where number of hours worked is zero, this can be coded as 96.
    And there are a few countries where the coding of amount of work done is country-specific.

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  21. Its worse than that... See this:

    Fulcher, M. & Coyle, F. (2011). Breadwinner and caregiver: A cross-sectional analysis of children's and emerging adults’ visions of their future family roles. BJDP, 29, 330-346...

    Participants were 150 school-age boys and girls, 58 high school students, and 145 university students drawn from communities in the Southeastern United States. In this cross-sectional study, family role attitudes and expectations were examined across development. Parental work traditionality (occupational prestige and traditionality, and employed hours) predicted daughters’ social role attitudes and plans for future family roles, such that daughters’ envisioned families resembled that of their parents. Sons’ and daughters’ own attitudes about adult family roles predicted their plans to work or stay home with their future children; however, mothers’ work traditionality predicted daughters’ future plans over and above daughters’ own attitudes. The only exception to this was in the case of university daughters, where university women's attitudes about social roles fully mediated this relationship. It may be that, as young women approach adulthood and the formation of families, they adjust their vision of their future self to match more closely their own attitudes about the caregiving role.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-835X.2011.02026.x/abstract

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  22. We're both researchers with rather different thresholds with regard to cleanliness: I tell her that her car needs cleaning, she finds our living room needs cleaning.

    Solution: we stay out of each other's cars and have hired a lady to do the house cleaning once a week.

    Now we both have more time for writing papers and grants

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    Replies
    1. Not everyone can afford a cleaner. So it'd be interesting to know what you would have done had you two been unable to afford one!
      Seeing as it's *her* car and that you have agreed to stay out of each other's cars, how would you have dealt with the living room situation - which, as you rightly point out, belongs to both of you?

      It seems that some people think that if a person wants to clean up a messy room, then that person should just do it and leave her partner alone! The fact that the space is "shared' suggests to me that a fair compromise is important.

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  23. Provided you are both happy with that, who am I to argue?

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