Results from the survey done by KelpHR responded by 247 working people from across India comprising of 36.4% male and 62.8% female across PAN India.
Getting her Navratri guests acquainted with one other, Vidhya introduced her retired neighbor – Mrs. Savithri, as a lady who had enjoyed a great career in addition to handling all the responsibilities that came with a joint-family.
‘What’s your secret Ma’am?’ asked another invitee – Anu, a working mom clearly reeling under her workload at office and home.
Mrs. Savithri replied earnestly – ‘If you can sacrifice your sleep, you can achieve anything. I used to get up at 3:30 a.m. every day, to cook and finish my housework before leaving for office.’
Seeing Anu’s eyes rolled in disbelief, Mrs. Savithri softened the blow by gently adding – ‘Well, that was the norm for my generation. You women have more support these days, don’t you?’
It seemed like a million-dollar question for Anu.
Do women have more support these days?
The Aye’s say:
- Women of means have been able to afford maids, daycare, nannies, cooks, and drivers to avail support on the personal front.
- On average, today’s men are pitching in more than the previous generations did.
The No’s feel:
- Women continue to be held solely responsible for their ‘home,’ – a result of deeply entrenched cultural belief systems.
- Women still handle the emotional labor of running a home, in addition to their careers. Thinking, planning and caring for everything, sucks up tremendous mental energy.
Worldwide lockdowns cut-off external support systems for women
In a volte-face from the past, organizations are pro-actively enabling ‘work from home,’ as a response to the looming threat of COVID-19. While the flexibility is appreciated; for those women who were already on a double shift, the absence of the external support system due to lockdowns is paralyzing.
Simply put, without external support-systems, women do not have the bandwidth to stretch any further.
A survey conducted by KelpHR in April 2020 to understand the contribution of men and women towards household chores in the absence of external support systems, reflects this. 27% of women across the 247 participants surveyed stated that they received absolutely no support from the men in their house in household chores!
Now is the time for men to take up their share of household chores
While caricatures of incompetent husbands are endearing, it doesn’t imply absolving them of their contribution to household chores.
The global pandemic has proved amongst other things, that unless men pitch in to do their bit, women cannot ‘do it all’.
In fact, research has shown that dads who participate in household chores have more ambitious daughters.
Enlisting men to help with household chores
It is essential to remember that generations of social conditioning are deeply ingrained into the human psyche.
As a result, a brash, confrontational approach that demands that it is ‘high-time men do their part’, could possibly result in their getting defensive and resentful.
An alternative approach to this confrontation would be to – rationally discuss goals, identify shared priorities, provide context to avoid assumptions, negotiate, stay open to new ways of getting things done, and remain conscious of social conditioning.
Navigating uncharted territories is stressful for everyone concerned. Negotiating with inner strength and a balanced view can help reduce the stress all around.
While gender-equality has made great strides at the workplace, it probably will take a lockdown world over to enable it to gain a toehold inside homes.
The global pandemic will hopefully usher in the much-needed support from men in handling household chores. Broad-minded, tactful conversations can help move the needle forward, however gradual progress may actually turn out to be.