Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Does workplace equality come home?

Over the last few generations, many societies have made major strides towards gender equity, particularly in the public sphere. Some of this may come from the demands of economics of the industrial and post-industrial revolutions, others from changes in attitudes, but all over the world, women are coming back into the workplace.

So what effect is this having in households? What is the relationship between women’s income generation outside the house, and intra-household bargaining, i.e. housework shared between spouses?

Last week Kathleen McGinn and Maya Ruiz Castro of Harvard Business School presented some of their preliminary research on these very questions. They suspect that:
  1. Women’s income and their involvement in societal leadership roles are shaped by both gender attitudes and intra-household bargaining outcomes, including the allocation of household work and childcare.
  2. More equal distribution of household work and childcare between spouses and less traditional gender attitudes are associated with higher earnings, greater supervisory responsibility, less work-life conflict and greater life satisfaction for both men and women.
They’re currently analyzing data from the global 2002 International Social Survey Program to see whether things like 'who does the laundry?' or whether there’s additional help from grandparents might affect equality within marriage and income. Meanwhile, how can public policy on parental leave and workplace equality affect changes in gender attitudes that are carried into the household?

Just last week, The New York Times published an article adding another dimension to the conversation: do women’s empowerment and intra-household bargaining, then, affect marriage dynamics, and in particular sexual behavior?

While having a “peer marriage” in which both partners do housework and childcare has become a bigger factor in women’s marital satisfaction, the article finds that, very often, “the less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.”

With all of these changes---in women’s workforce participation, intra-household bargaining power, sexuality, and power---will societies adjust their expectations accordingly?

Photo: Bertha Stallworth, age 21, inspects 40mm artillery cartridges at Frankford Arsenal during WWII. Source: National Archives, 208-NP-1WW-1

No comments:

Post a Comment