Two Halves Don't Always Make a Couple Whole
There has been a lot of discussion lately about a 3/19/07 article in the Washington Post describing data on the workload of mothers vs fathers from the University of Maryland. One of the more interesting statistics coming out of these data is the following:
"...the total workloads of married mothers and fathers -- when paid work is added to child care and housework -- is roughly equal, at 65 hours a week for mothers and 64 hours for fathers."
On the one hand, it is nice to know that men's and women's overall efforts add up to about the same number of hours weekly. Men aren't, one might presume, the slackers they are often portrayed to be on TV sitcoms - they may not be home with the kids much, but by God at least they are out earning the money.
On the other hand, this statistic says very little about equal sharing. Other statistics in the article point to the continued gap between men's and women's time in any one domain (breadwinning, childraising, housework - the recreation domain is not measured). I think this raises an important point about equal sharing. That is, equal sharing is not about adding up the hours and comparing the grand total. It is about comparing the total hours between parents for each domain. Very simplistically, a situation where the man spends 85 hours at work and on the golf course each week while the woman spends 85 hours with the kids and cleaning the house each week would be equal but untenable for most couples. The real picture of equality emerges only when you dissect the domains and then compare those hours.