How is gender inequality played out in the home?

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The Second Shift describes the problems created by expectations placed on women who work full-time but also take on the bulk of the household duties. According to the book, once more women began to enter the workplace so that the family could have two incomes and better meet the increasing...

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The Second Shift describes the problems created by expectations placed on women who work full-time but also take on the bulk of the household duties. According to the book, once more women began to enter the workplace so that the family could have two incomes and better meet the increasing financial demands of daily life, "the second shift" emerged.

When men were the primary breadwinners and women were stay-at-home mothers, the women were responsible for the upkeep of the home; women performed childcare duties and also maintained the home by cooking and cleaning. Men would work full-time, come home, and be tended to by their wives. When more women began working full-time, however, the roles at home did not adjust accordingly. Therefore, women were performing a "second shift" of work when they returned home from their full-time jobs. They were working all day, then coming home to care for children, cook dinner, and perform other household tasks. The studies found that men were not contributing much, while women were stressed out and exhausted by their double duties. The Second Shift also argues that women are more often found multitasking, so they also perform proportionally more work than men in the home.

It is possible that today the divide is not quite as large as it used to be between men's and women's duties in the home. Younger parents may now be dividing work more equally, and it is somewhat more common now for men to split childcare duties with their wives. We would need updated studies to see how much the problem has developed in the decades since The Second Shift was first published.

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