While Americans are generally supportive of gender quality, new research suggests a disparity in their views of gender roles in the private and public. A significant share of Americans still believe that men's and women's roles should be different at home, though the same share of Americans believe that they should be equal at work. As such, women are doing more paid work, but men aren't picking up more domestic work.
Of course, what this means, is that women are working longer and harder hours than ever before.
The study, which will be published in the journal Gender and Society, reviewed national survey data from 1977 to 2016 and found that two-thirds of Americans and three-quarters of millennials believe that men and women should be equal at home and work. Only five percent of millennials and seven percent of those born from 1946 to 1980 disagree. But roughly a quarter of the survey's participants had more complicated views on gender equality.
While most of the survey's participants believe that men and women should have equalities opportunities at work and in politics, they do think that women should take on more housework and childrearing responsibilities.
Specifically, one-fifth of the participating men born between 1946 and 1980 said that women should be more equal to men at work than at home.
“You can believe men and women have truly different natural tendencies and skills, that women are better nurturers and caretakers, and still believe women should have equal rights in the labor force,” Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author of the paper, told The New York Times
Millennials are much more likely than other generations to feel that women and men should have equal opportunities in all aspects of life. But even millennials end up dividing labor more traditionally after having children.
“Their attitudes aren’t stalled, but what might be stalled is the ability to live one’s values,” Risman said of millennials, according to The New York Times. “As workplaces become more demanding, I think it’s harder to be the parent of a young child and a full-time worker now than 30 years ago.”
While the research suggests that Americans as a whole have indeed become ever more egalitarian over the last four decades, and people in each generation are adopting more egalitarian views over time, society's preconceived gender norms still reign supreme in the domestic sphere.
The strides toward equality in the workplace are a step forward, but the stall for equality at home only means that women are working even harder.
More efforts need to be made toward a gender-equal domestic sphere so that men and women share household and childrearing responsibilities. Only then can women really take advantage of their increasing work opportunities, anyway.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.