In 1795, Martha Bullard of Hallowell, Maine, detailed the following household chores in her diary: brewing beer, nursing a sick cow, and scouring 35 skeins of wool in preparation for weaving. "A woman's work is never done, as the song says," she entered for one cold November week. "And happy she whose strength holds out to the end of the days."
Historians of housework (e.g., Ruth Schwartz, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave; Susan Strasser, Never Done; and Ann Oakley, The Sociology of Housework) have noted the grand irony of "labor saving" household appliances: often they have expanded, rather than contracted, household tasks and the time required for their completion. And as products of the industrial revolution entered the home, such as ready-made food and clothes, housework was to shift to more coordinating and managerial roles such as shopping, chauffeuring kids, dealing with service agencies for younger and older family members, and maintaining family budgets.
Elsewhere, we observed the huge gender inequalities in the time dual-career couples spend such household labor. Here, let's explore further this division of labor of American husbands and wives using the results of the 1994 NORC General Social Survey. That year, respondents were asked: "In your household who does the following things:" (with possible responses: always the woman, usually the woman, about equal or both together, usually the man, always the man, is done by a third person):
Click here to see couples' responses to these questions. The disparities reported by the sexes is interesting, which each deflating the contributions of the other.
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