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New research reveals the answerÃ¢â‚¬”and the surprising reason why
What can you tell about a guy based solely on his job? You might be able to get a rough estimate of how much housework he would do if he lived with youÃ¢â‚¬”at least, that's the word from a new study that suggests married and co-habitating men who have jobs typically held by women spend more time doing housework.
Plenty of previous studies have shown an inverse relationship between the amount of money men make and how much housework they tend to do. But for this study, researchers from the University of Notre Dame wanted to see if what men actually do for a livingÃ¢â‚¬”and whether they're surrounded by women in their workplaceÃ¢â‚¬”affects how many hours they log cleaning each week. So they looked at data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which has collected detailed work and lifestyle information on a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 people.
Since men who choose to work in female-dominated careers may already be more progressive and therefore open to doing more housework, researchers chose to focus on husbands and co-habitating men who had switched from a job held primarily by men to one held primarily by women. That way, they knew that any increase in the man's housework was much more likely due to his new female-heavy workplace. (Researchers defined predominantly female careers as those that are made up of at least 75 percent women, according to U.S. Census data, and predominantly male careers as those that are made up of at least 75 percent men.)
Turns out, when men made the change, the average hours of housework they did per week jumped from 6.9 to 8.7Ã¢â‚¬”a 26 percent increase. There wasn't nearly as big an increase in single men who switched to predominantly female careersÃ¢â‚¬”or in women who switched from traditionally male careers to traditionally female ones.
Why? Previous research shows that men in "female careers" have worse marriage prospects than men in predominantly male careers, says study author Elizabeth Aura McClintock, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. "The change in their job appears to make them more dependent on the current marriage, which reduces their power in the marriage," she says. Translation? They suddenly have more incentive to make the relationship work, so they take on more housework to ease tension.
Interestingly, the wives and live-in girlfriends of men who switched to stereotypically female jobs did less housework after the switchÃ¢â‚¬”and they cut back by more than 1.8 hours per week, the extra time that their partners picked up. "The total actually decreases, which again speaks to that power issue," says McClintock. "SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feeling stronger in the marriage, and sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing lessÃ¢â‚¬”particularly things like doing his laundry that she doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily want to do." (AlthoughÃ¢â‚¬”full disclosureÃ¢â‚¬”McClintock's research revealed that women are still doing about two-thirds of the housework in any given household.)
The takeaway? If you're on the market, "give guys in 'female jobs' a better look," says McClintock. "A previous paper of mine shows that women tend to reject them, probably on the assumption that there's something wrong with them. But it turns out that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re actually really nice guysÃ¢â‚¬”and they do more housework."