Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Division of Household Labor and Social Judgments in Israel: The Influence of Gender and Education

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Division of Household Labor and Social Judgments in Israel: The Influence of Gender and Education

Article excerpt

The study investigated how men and women with high and low levels of education perceive male and female targets who participate or do not participate in household chores. It was found that individuals liked both men and women who participated in the household chores more and wanted to engage in activities with them more than with the low-participating targets. The participating man was perceived as more popular than the low-participating man and was perceived as more feminine but not less masculine. In addition, although participants with both high and low levels of education preferred the participating man, the more educated participants preferred him more, attributed more masculinity to him, and expressed willingness to befriend him and engage in activities with him more than those with a lower level of education. It seems, then, that whereas in the 1990s both highly and less educated individuals perceive a male target who participates in household chores more favorably, this preference is more pronounced among the more educated individuals.

Key Words: gender differences, household division, social judgements.

The increased participation of women in the labor force has served as an impetus for growing interest in the effect of their employment on the division of household labor. The present era has witnessed an escalation in men's adoption of those household responsibilities that have traditionally been viewed as belonging to the feminine sphere. Notwithstanding, there still remain substantial inequalities in the household division of labor (Coverman, 1985; Gershuny & Robinson, 1988; Hochschild, 1989). Accordingly, despite women's employment outside of the home, they are still allocated many of the central household tasks, such as primary caretaker of the children, cook, and cleaner (Thompson & Walker, 1989). These discrepancies extend to perceptions of household responsibility such that when men participate in household activities, they are frequently perceived as helping with and not as sharing in the responsibility (Baruch & Barnett, 1986; Coleman, 1988; Mederer, 1993).

Several theories have been proposed to explain this inequality in the division of household responsibility. Some emphasize gender differences in the availability and efficient use of time (Atkinson & Huston, 1984; Becker, 1981; Kamo, 1988; Presland & Antill, 1987), whereas others focus on discrepancies in the power balance between men and women (Huber & Spitze, 1983; Maret & Finlay, 1984). A third corpus of theory explains unequal divisions in household labor on the basis of gender role ideology. In line with this ideology, most household tasks, such as caretaking of children and preparation of meals, are considered to be traditionally feminine roles. Therefore, traditional socialization processes engender the belief that women hold responsibility for these tasks (Brody & Steelman, 1985; Cogle & Tasker, 1982; Hiller, 1984; Thompson & Walker, 1989).

Most studies concerned with home division of labor have focused on issues of the measurement and perception of this division and on its effect on related variables such as marital satisfaction and happiness (Blair & Lichter, 1991; Mederer, 1993; Pina & Bengtson, 1993; Yogev & Brett, 1985). In general, the research domain has not included systematic investigation of the ways in which men's and women's participation in household chores is perceived by others.

The relation between gender stereotypic and counterstereotypic behavior and inferences and judgments has been widely investigated (Biernat, 1991; Berndt & Heller, 1986; Deaux & Lewis, 1984; Lobel, Bempechat, Gewirtz, Shoken-Topaz, & Bach, 1993; Lobel, 1994). Within this framework, a distinction has been drawn between cognitive inferences and emotional-motivational judgments (e.g., Lobel, 1994). Cognitive inferences consist of normative stereotypic judgments based on relatively objective knowledge of gender stereotypes. …

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