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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 11:12 GMT
Housework 'holding women back'
Woman working
Researchers say women are being held back by domestic duties
Women will not achieve equal opportunities in the workplace until men agree to do their fair share of housework, according to University of Ulster researchers.

The research, What women want? Women and gender roles in Northern Ireland, compared attitudes expressed in three surveys in the province between 1994 and 2002.

Despite an increasing number of women in the workplace, they still continue to bear the lion's share of the burden of running the home.

Men on average do just under six hours of housework per week compared to more than 17 hours by women, not including the time spent looking after children.

Authors of the report Professor Gillian Robinson and Dr Ann Marie Gray, from the University of Ulster, said gender inequalities were rooted in social structures and in attitudes.

"It is difficult to see how women will ever have the same opportunities in the labour market if equality in the private sphere is not achieved and women continue to provide more than 70% of all household and caring work," they said.

They found the perception that what women really want is a home and children has remained remarkably consistent over the years with 36% of men and women agreeing or strongly agreeing with that sentiment in 2002.

'Conservative attitudes'

Of those who replied to the 2002 Life and Times Survey, 70% agreed that both men and women should contribute to the household income.

However, the survey also suggested that domestic responsibilities and childcare were not equally shared.

The researchers also referred to the high cost and limited availability of childcare in Northern Ireland which created problems for many working parents.

In the survey, men and women were asked about a range of household chores - doing the laundry, making repairs, looking after sick family members, shopping for groceries, household cleaning and preparing meals.

The male respondents made a significant contribution only when it came to making repairs.

Although a majority of both men and women agreed that men ought to do a large share of the housework, the researchers found traditional gender roles within the home very slow to change, with conservative attitudes still fairly entrenched in Northern Ireland.

Only 8% of respondents felt that women should go out to work full-time when they had a child under school age.

Some 44% felt that family life suffers when a woman has a full-time job and 46% felt a pre-school child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works.

BBC NI's Patricia Wilkinson:
"On average, men do just under six hours of housework per week compared to more than 17 hours by women"

Work gender gap 'narrows'
08 Oct 03  |  Business

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