As we look cautiously into the post-epidemic world, where masks are beginning to come out, offices are beginning to reopen, it is time for us to start some tough talk about women’s invisible work.
Like many things last year, the epidemic pulled back the curtain that has long been true in our society. Women do the vast majority of unpaid, unrecognized work in families and workplaces.
At home, women in heterosexual relationships are mainly involved in childcare, housework, and household chores. At work, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, women are 44% more likely to be asked to volunteer for “unhealthy” but time-consuming tasks. In addition, research has shown that men say yes to volunteering only 51% of the time, while women say yes 76%.
This job mismatch was highlighted recently when Washingtonian Media CEO Katie Merrill wrote a statement to the Washington Post arguing that employees should return to the physical office, saying that 20% of an employee’s job is “extras” that you can only achieve. in the office, such as celebrating a birthday ելը supporting junior staff.
But who makes those supplements? Usually women և it does not benefit their career.
Laura Hazard Owen wrote an excerpt from Merrill at the Nieman Lab that she wrote: “Over the past year, part-time work has shown that part of office culture is casual, arbitrary or sexist. “Most of those who fall into the unpaid ‘culture’ must be identified, ‘distributed fairly.’
Feedback on Merrill’s work was swift, and և staff refused to publish it for a day. But Meryl’s view is not out of the ordinary.
Workplace և NGOs that view all forms of care as underestimated “women’s work” have led to what some economists call the “decline of women.” According to the 19th news site, during the epidemics, mothers reduced their working hours four to five times more often than men to care for their children, leaving female unemployment in double digits for the first time since 1948. women և Latins. The unemployment rate was even worse.
Lack of affordable child care is a possible motivation for this inequality. As Emily Peck wrote in The New York Times, childcare is a crucial national infrastructure, as important as bridges and roads, but is treated as merely a pleasant thing as opposed to an economic necessity.
“The tension here is what Nancy Folbre և other feminist economists started working on decades ago, what policy makers have just achieved. “Hardly a system where working parents do not have reliable, affordable child care is a system where they cannot build a reliable career,” Peck wrote.
The role of child care as a potential economic infrastructure is finally receiving some attention. In March, President Biden included a $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal that included funding for child care, paid family leave, and universal antenatal care for adults with disabilities.
Part of the relocation of that opposition will stop the expectation that women should simply “naturally” receive a disproportionate share of the invisible workload in our homes and workplaces.
There is nothing biological or typical about the fact that women do disproportionately hidden work or that half of the husbands carry a greater burden than the other when they both work outside the home.
In families with double incomes, for example, a study by the Institute for Family and Labor found that only 38% of heterosexual couples have childcare responsibilities. In contrast, a study of same-sex relationships found that 74% of couples shared care.
Interestingly, even after decades of research and so much evidence that falls on women, men in heterosexual relationships seem to live in a state of denial of how much they actually do. After the study, men kept saying that they were equally involved in household chores, while women constantly disagreed.
Transforming the childcare system into free, universal care will be a great first step in leveling the playing field.
But in order to create a broader cultural-paradigm shift, it is necessary to call the invisible work on women what it is. And just because “learned helplessness” – the belief that men are less capable of housework or child care because many did not have to do it – may make women feel somehow better at it. to it, the truth is that we,
Childcare, care for the elderly, cleaning, preparation, and organization of office celebrations are examples of covert work that in some cases require more support, resources from the state, and in other cases, a fairer distribution of labor.
Until that happens, women will not have the equality at home or the career advancement opportunities we deserve.