Since the onset of COVID-19, both men and women have reported an increase in domestic responsibilities.
The thing is: Women disagree.
The results come from a University of Utah study aimed to show the impacts of COVID-19 on American households by surveying 1,060 heterosexual couples with children and analyzing changes in routine housework and care of children.
The report reads:
Mothers are less likely than fathers to report that fathers have increased their time in housework or care of older children. There was no such disagreement regarding mother’s time.
According to findings, fathers reported a 45 percent increase in amounts of time grocery shopping, 36 percent in dishwashing, and 35 percent house cleaning—but homeschooling responsibilities show a very imbalanced relationship between men and women.
Half of couples said education was the sole responsibility of the mother, while 28 percent said both parents are responsible. Only 12 percent of men say it is their sole responsibility as a father.
And in 73 percent of cases, mothers who do the majority of childcare are also solely responsible for educational content.
While the researchers say that the pandemic has both exacerbated and reduced gender inequities, they also noted that men might think they are contributing more to the household.
Greater exposure to domestic work may also lead fathers to perceive that they are spending more time in these tasks then they actually are.
Although it’s impossible to be sure about whose interpretations are correct, past research on the gender division of labor shows that men often overestimate the amount of household work they do—with women doing more than 2 hours of additional work per day compared to an additional 40 minutes for men.
The only hope is that the pandemic will alter some gender imbalances.
There is the potential for the COVID-19 pandemic to alter gendered divisions of labor if fathers remain more engaged in the home once shelter-in-place orders are lifted and children go back to school. Whether increased sharing of housework and childcare will persist remains to be seen.