Working Women Too Tired to Fight About Chores

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Photo: Reed Kaestner/Corbis

The notion that changing gender roles in the workplace don’t correspond to the home — where female breadwinners still do the majority of the unpaid, domestic labor traditionally covered by the full-time homemaker — is hardly news. But according to a University of Indianapolis study written up in BuzzFeed, the “second shift” is alive and well, especially for working-class women trying to change the gender dynamic.

Whether a relationship was “conventional” (male breadwinner), “contesting” (at least one partner wanted the relationship to be more equal) or “counter-conventional” (female breadwinner), women did the majority of housework in the 30 working-class couples studied, with varying levels of conflict. (Weird that two-breadwinner couples didn't get a category, to say nothing of the absence of gay couples.) Conventional couples had low levels of conflict, while contesting couples had more, as they “were still struggling to get behavior to match up with beliefs.” In counter-conventional couples, there may have been some conflict at the beginning but “the women had essentially given up,” probably because they were really tired from having two jobs and not in the mood to add a third, negotiating division of labor with a guy who sat around playing Skyrim all day.

Researchers Amanda J. Miller and Sharon Sassler’s solution? Make a chore wheel with your beloved before you shack up. “Of the couples she studied, ‘very few sat down and had a conversation about who was going to do what and when,’" BuzzFeed’s Anna North writes. “And a conversation beforehand can help couples make sure their beliefs and behaviors stay aligned." Alternatively, you could save up for a Roomba and agree to be progressive power slobs.