If Men Did More Housework, Women Could Get Ahead at the Office

If Men Did More Housework, Women Could Get Ahead at the Office

Add this to the annals of "Science That Proves the Obvious": Women could be more productive at work if their partners helped out more at home, according to new research.

Researchers found that because women bear more of the burden for "house production" duties — i.e., housework and child care — they either miss out when their jobs require longer working days, or they shy away altogether from careers that call for longer workweeks. That's based on a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

This, in turn, contributes to the wage gap: A 10% reduction in a woman's personal time reduces her participation in jobs that require longer working hours by 14 percentage points — and bumps up the gender wage gap by 11 percentage points, the NBER found.

The study may come as no surprise to working moms. In fact, one Pew Research study found that 51% of working mothers with children under 18 found it hard to advance in their careers, while only 16 percent of working dads said the same.

So until all employers finally realize they need to be more family-friendly, you may need some help on the home front. Here are a few tips to consider.

Budget for services that will help save you time. You're not Superwoman. Figure out what chores you can outsource at a cost that won't bust your budget — especially in light of new research that shows paying for services that save you time can help boost your happiness factor.

Have a system in place for sharing household chores. Without a formal division of duties, it's hard to manage expectations for who does what. Whether it's assigning specific chores to one partner (maybe you're more particular about how to do dishes, while your partner has some laundry opinions) or switching off by day or week, come up with an arrangement that works for the both of you. And get your kids involved if they're old enough to pitch in.

Try to anticipate busy periods. If you know that, say, a big meeting is coming up that will require some late nights, try to manage both your partners' and managers' expectations for what your schedule will be like. Maybe that means getting your spouse to do all the child pickups for one week. It could also mean telling your boss that you can work extra hours during the first half of the week in order to get a project done, but might need coworkers to pitch in during the second half.

RELATED: The 168 Hours Challenge: How a Time Audit Can Reboot Your Work/Life Balance Mind-set


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