A Different Approach To Changing Men’s Attitudes Toward Unpaid Labor

Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)

If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.

The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.

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Why Should Men Care About The Care Economy?

Question:

It feels like women keep talking into an echo chamber on the issue of chores and childcare, but we need men on board. How do we get men to care about the care economy?

Answer:

Women’s burden of unpaid labor shot up 153% during the pandemic. But even before the pandemic, women were still shouldering the bulk of unpaid labor.

Now we’re standing face to face with anemic labor force participation among women: it’s currently at 57.5% compared to 59.2% pre-pandemic — the lowest it’s been in 33 years. For the women who are in the workforce right now, 62% of them report stressing “a lot of the day yesterday” (compared to 52% of men).

We’re also living in an interesting time where men are more likely than ever to embrace gender equity, and yet, they still don’t do their fair share of housework. So how do we get men to care about the un/under-paid care economy?

We need to show men how their involvement in this issue improves outcomes for them, their families, and the economy.

Four Ways Men Reap The Benefits Of A More Equitable Distribution Of Domestic Labor

1. When women aren’t weighted down by demands at home, they can increase their participation in the paid workforce.

Why should men care about this? Because since 1970, women have added $2 trillion to the US economy by increasing their participation in the paid labor force. And there’s still room to grow. In fact, we could add $789 billion more to the economy by closing the intersectional gender gap in labor force participation. It’s about expanding the economic pie for all.

2. Everyone’s wages increase when more women participate in the paid labor force.

Men’s paychecks benefit from women’s increased labor force participation. That’s because productivity increases as more women enter the workforce. The result: wages for all workers rise by 5% for every 10% increase in women’s labor force participation.

3. Productivity increases when all genders pitch in to complete household chores.

Before the pandemic, women spent 241 minutes on unpaid labor every day compared to men’s 145 minutes. Of those 145 minutes, men mostly tended to the car and yard. Women, with their 241 minutes, tended to the house and children. (This gendered division of labor is known as the gender chore gap.) Yet research shows that if unpaid labor were allocated in a gender-neutral way, output would increase by 5.4% per hour — freeing up time for families to spend on more enjoyable activities together.

4. Families benefit from dad’s involvement in parenting.

Children stand to gain when fathers take a more active role in parenting. Research shows that dads provide a special type of care that mothers often do not provide. Their parenting style leads to better self-control, less risky behavior, and better grades for their children. The value of diversity is important in raising happy, healthy children (who are our future labor force).

So there you have it. Four concrete reasons why men should care about the care economy.

Ultimately, we need to use these insights to change the narrative: intersectional gender equity isn’t a women’s issue — it impacts everyone, including men.

We need to take off the zero-sum glasses and start appreciating our economy as the complex, interconnected system that it is.

This article was first published on my website.

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© 2021 Katica Roy™, Inc.

CEO of Pipeline Equity | Gender Economist | Award-Winning Leader | On a mission to achieve gender equity, once and for all. www.pipelineequity.com