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Working mothers still do bulk of housework, child care

By Stephanie Grimes  |  Posted Jul 24th, 2012 @ 7:27pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The question has been asked if women can really "have it all," and a recent survey found that even if they can't have it all, they may be asked to do it all — or at least, most of it.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual American Time Use survey found that in 2011, women were still responsible for the bulk of housework and childcare. Even women who worked full time and had children in the house did the majority of the household cooking and cleaning.

The survey found that on the average day, 19 percent of men and 48 percent of women did housework, such as cleaning or laundry. Food preparation and cleanup was done by 40 percent of men and 66 percent of women.

The disparity was even greater when work was thrown into the mix: mothers who worked full time while married did more three times the housework that full-time working fathers did in 2011.

The full-time working mothers did 51 minutes of housework a day, compared to full-time working fathers' 14 minutes.

The bulk of childcare also fell to women: 72 percent of working women reported taking care of their kids on an average day, compared to 55 percent of working men.

The results of the survey come in the wake of one of the most politicized debates in years about mothers and womanhood, helped by an article in The Atlantic titled, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All."

The article first appeared online June 20 and soon became one of the most- viewed articles in the magazine's history. The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, argued that women could not exist simultaneously in the both top ranks of the professional world and the world of motherhood.

The piece led to frank discussions of whether women could fairly juggle work and home, and where their primary responsibilities lie. The entire question fit neatly into the larger, ongoing discussion about women in general — their autonomy, and even their anatomy.

Politics aside, there is something to be said for fathers becoming more active in their children's lives, as a recent study out of Brigham Young University found that fathers' involvement plays a critical role in child development. For now, though, moms still spend more time with their children: 103 minutes a day, compared to 53 minutes for dad, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.

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