The problem is that these apps face an enormously difficult task of trying to reverse deeply ingrained social norms: girls in the kitchen with their moms, boys playing with their parents. These expectations are part of what leaves women in heterosexual couples with much of the housework (same-sex couples are noticeably more egalitarian). Once women become mothers, the imbalance gets worse.
However, the problem is not Yes men can play an equal role in household chores though how. Men of more egalitarian cultures, not surprisingly, take on a much fairer share. And in these places, if neither partner has the time or energy, the government itself can come to their aid. In Sweden, which tops the EU’s gender equality index, the state pays half the bill to hire jobs such as laundry and housekeeping, which means many more employed families can afford it. allow the luxury of doing so. This, in turn, helps women’s income potential. In Belgium, a similar state subsidy for subcontracting led to a significant increase in female employment.
In the United States, however, many women, mothers or not, are in crisis, with few safety nets such as affordable or subsidized child care or health care.
Paperwork on inequalities
Part of the reason why apps may be struggling to seriously affect women’s household chores is that much of the work women do is not physical, but mental and emotional. The burden still falls mainly on women to anticipate the needs of those around them and make daily decisions on behalf of the family, says Allison Daminger, a doctoral student in sociology at Harvard. These tasks may include researching the best deal for a sofa or remembering that it is time to schedule a child’s visit to the dentist. It is a time-consuming job, even if it is hidden from others.
The design of regular applications further incorporates the status quo: that it is usually women who delegate household chores. “I can’t think of a moment [in my research] where a man made a list for his wife, but I can think of several cases where a woman made a list for her husband, “says Daminger.
Jaclyn Wong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina, is not only an expert on the role of gender expectations in couple dynamics. She is also piloting her own app, a homework calendar that tries to dodge gender pitfalls: the woman is in charge of the kitchen, the man is in charge of the garden work, dividing the full range of household chores between the two. couples. It also aims to put in writing exactly what each person does.
Chapman Clark says making invisible work visible in this way was a big advantage of using his job application. “It helped me notice when my husband was contributing and my husband helped notice that there are many more tasks than just sweeping, vacuuming, cooking and eating dishes,” she says.
But not everyone enjoys seeing this discrepancy between a couple’s contributions. Wong’s research shows that this is an uphill battle: “There is a setback. People are on the defensive when they are warned of ways in which they are not being equal partners,” he notes. The risk is that couples may drop out of an application for this reason, even if it may help them in the long run.