Aug. 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM ET
Ladies, if you want a Prince Charming who’s willing to pick up the vacuum cleaner and the laundry basket, you might want to look for one in nurse’s scrubs or with finger-paint handprints on his pants.
New research finds that men who work in traditionally female fields, such as preschool teachers, nurses, secretaries, do more housework than other men.
“Men who move to a more female job increase their housework,” said Elizabeth Aura McClintock, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of the study. Married men or those living with a girlfriend who work in traditionally female-dominated fields do about 25 percent more housework than those who work in more stereotypically masculine fields.
A big reason for the discrepancy has to do with how desirable men in typically “feminine” jobs are as partners, McClintock said. “Essentially, they feel insecure about their options outside the marriage,” she said.
“Men who work in female-dominated jobs have a harder time getting married … presumably because they suffer a lot of stigma,” McClintock said. “So he’s kind of got to step up to the plate” and overcompensate when it comes to pitching in around the house.
“She seems to recognize that she’s in a stronger position, too,” McClintock said of the women married to those nurses and nannies. Women whose husbands or partners work in these types of jobs do less housework than their counterparts who have husbands in more stereotypically male vocations.
The caveat here, though, is that it’s still women who do most of the house cleaning: Men working in professions where women make up 75 percent or more of the labor pool do the most housework, with single men logging nine hours a week and married or co-habitating men coming in just below that.
But overall, women spend a little less than 18 hours a week on household chores.
McClintock said another driver, although it that applies mostly to men who are already married or in a relationship, is what the paper terms “occupational embeddedness.” In lay terms, this means that men who work surrounded by women are more empathetic of their efforts to achieve a work-life balance, juggling job duties with the unpaid work waiting for them when they get home.
“I would like to hope they do get a little bit more enlightened,” she said.