Although male partners are doing more chores at home than ever before, the gender divide in housework remains one of the most persistent (and frustrating) barriers to gender parity. Women still take on most of the cooking and cleaning at home—a pattern that even continues among retired people. And depressingly, recent research shows that this trend starts early, with teen girls spending more time on housework than teen boys each day.
A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that girls between 15 and 17 spend more than twice as much time cooking and cleaning as boys in the same age group. While teen girls devote an average of 29 minutes a day to these tasks, boys only spend about 12 minutes doing them. Girls also spend slightly more time running errands and performing unpaid or volunteer care work—both tasks that are traditionally considered “women’s work.” Even though it might not seem like a huge difference, the minutes add up, and the survey found that boys have about an hour more free time than girls every day.
And before you go thinking that boys make up for this inequality by doing more yard work or home improvement-related tasks, the survey found no significant difference between the time girls and boys spent on these chores.
According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adult women spend about 50 minutes a day doing housework and another 50 on cooking, while men spend about 14 minutes on housework and 22 minutes on food prep.
Of course, gender inequality is ingrained in our society, and there’s no easy fix right now. But treating teenagers differently at home based on their gender only sets the stage for this to continue into adulthood. And it’s not just division of labor, either—the gender pay gap is a problem at home, too: boys typically receive larger allowances than girls.
It’s time to be more conscious of the gendered expectations we place on our kids—because is this what we want for our daughters?