After absorbing the myriad discussions about whether the modern woman can have it all, Richard Dorment flips the question:
According to a study released in March by the Pew Research Center, household setups like ours are increasingly the norm: 60 percent of two-parent homes with kids under the age of eighteen are made up of dual-earning couples (i.e., two working parents). On any given week in such a home, women put in more time than men doing housework (sixteen hours to nine) and more time with child care (twelve to seven). These statistics provoke outrage among the “fair share” crowd, and there is a sense, even among the most privileged women, that they are getting a raw deal. …
But the complete picture reveals a more complex and equitable reality. Men in dual-income couples work outside the home eleven more hours a week than their working wives or partners do (forty-two to thirty-one), and when you look at the total weekly workload, including paid work outside the home and unpaid work inside the home, men and women are putting in roughly the same number of hours: fifty-eight hours for men and fifty-nine for women.
How you view those numbers depends in large part on your definition of work, but it’s not quite as easy as saying men aren’t pulling their weight around the house. (Spending eleven fewer hours at home and with the kids doesn’t mean working dads are freeloaders any more than spending eleven fewer hours at work makes working moms slackers.) These are practical accommodations that reflect real-time conditions on the ground, and rather than castigate men, one might consider whether those extra hours on the job provide the financial cover the family needs so that women can spend more time with the kids.
He notes a shift in the attitude that men have toward their “home-work balance” over the past 50 years:
“In 1977,” [researcher Ellen Galinsky] says, “there was a Department of Labor study that asked people, ‘How much interference do you feel between your work and your family life?’ and men’s work-family conflict was a lot lower than women’s.” She saw the numbers begin to shift in the late 1990s, and “by 2008, 60 percent of fathers in dual-earning couples were experiencing some or a lot of conflict compared to about 47 percent of women. I would go into meetings with business leaders and report the fact that men’s work-family conflict was higher than women’s, and people in the room — who were so used to being worried about women’s advancement — couldn’t believe it.” What they couldn’t believe was decades of conventional wisdom — men secure and confident in the workplace, women somewhat less so — crumbling away as more and more fathers began to invest more of their time and energy into their home lives.