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Sex, not income, determines division of chores in US houses

New York, Aug 21 (IANS) In a first, researchers studying Americans’ beliefs about chores found that sex and gender are more important than income in determining views on division of tasks.

According to a study, for heterosexual couples, most Americans still believe in the traditional division of household labour between husbands and wives.

“…for same-sex couples, they think the ‘more masculine’ partner and the ‘more feminine’ partner should generally be responsible for stereotypically male and female chores, respectively,” says the study to be presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) slated for August 20-23 in Seattle, Washington.

Titled, “Making Money, Doing Gender, or Being Essentialist? Partner Characteristics and Americans’ Attitudes Toward Housework”, the study looked at Americans’ beliefs about how partners should divide chores and childcare tasks, said Natasha Quadlin, the lead author.

“Nearly three quarters of our respondents thought that the female partners in heterosexual couples should be responsible for cooking, doing laundry, cleaning the house and buying groceries,” Quadlin, who is also a doctoral student in sociology at Indiana University, added.

“In addition, nearly 90 per cent of our respondents thought that heterosexual men should be responsible for automobile maintenance and outdoor chores. Regardless of the partner’s relative income or gendered hobbies and interests, our respondents gravitated toward the person’s sex instead,” Quadlin noted.

When respondents were asked to assign tasks between same-sex partners, traditionally female chores were generally given to the more feminine partner and male tasks were typically assigned to the more masculine partner.

“Even in same-sex couples where there are not sex differences between partners, people use gender differences as a way to approximate sex differences,” Quadlin said.

Women in heterosexual relationships were also expected to handle the majority of childcare tasks.

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