Men are doing more housework. Women still do a lot more
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Men are doing more housework. Women still do a lot more

As Ian Greenshields proudly places his specialty lamb roast on the dinner table, his two sons groan. 'We had this last week Dad!'

Since semi-retiring, the father of two has taken on the lion's share of household chores. And, he says, he feels unappreciated.

“I have not enjoyed taking more on. Cooking... it’s a chore because it goes unnoticed. I’ve learnt to try and not be adventurous when cooking and shopping, as it is filled with risk,” he says.

“The boys in particular don’t appreciate it even if the risk pays off. If you’re not adventurous enough, however, then I get complaints about food being too boring. Sometimes you can’t win.”

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Ian Greenshields. Working hard.

Ian Greenshields. Working hard.Credit:Joe Armao

Like Mr Greenshields, the nation’s men are increasingly taking on more household chores, according to data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey released Tuesday.

Between 2002 and 2016 men increased the amount of housework they do by about 55 minutes a week on average, while women have reduced the amount they do by about 2½ hours.

All up, it means 1½ hours less housework gets done. Either families are hiring cleaners, or we're dropping our standards.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves by applauding men for doing more.

The increase means the average women now does about seven hours more housework than the average man - down from 10.4 in 2002.

Even in households where the woman is working full-time and the man is unemployed, women still do almost half the housework.

Unsurprisingly, men tend to be highly satisfied with this arrangement and consider they do their fair share.

Mr Greenshields and family pet JJ: “I have not enjoyed taking more on.".

Mr Greenshields and family pet JJ: “I have not enjoyed taking more on.". Credit:Joe Armao

Women generally think they do much more housework than is fair.

If the trend continues, it will take 30 years for men to do as much housework as women, according to calculations by Inga Lass, one of the report’s co-authors.

“I was surprised by how persistent this gender division is, even when the children get older,” she says. “When the first child is 10, we still have this division. That really struck me.”

The trend is being driven by a shift in attitudes towards parenting and work, which have become slightly more progressive on average since 2005, the survey indicates.

The survey, run by researchers, the Melbourne Institute, has been following the same group of about 17,000 Australians since 2001.

That means the results are considered very reliable, and are also useful for showing the long-term consequences of certain things like poverty or marriage breakdown, or highlighting trends over time.

For women who hate doing housework and want to build a career, the survey's advice is clear: don’t get married and definitely don’t have kids.

Getting married is linked to increases in the average amount of housework a woman does and decreases the amount of paid work she does a week.

Married women with children do the most housework out of any group surveyed: almost 30 hours a week.

Remarkably, a married woman without children will do almost 10 hours more housework, and almost 10 hours less paid work, than her defacto counterpart.

Ian Greenshields still feels as though he is receiving too much criticism from his family. But he is beginning to learn the tricks of the trade.

“The boys eat pretty much anything at the end of the day, you could chuck anything in a blender and they would devour it, so that makes life a bit easier.”

Mr Greenshields insists that despite the constant complaining from his sons, his increase in housework has taken the pressure off his wife, Lynette.

“I really would recommend for other men to increase their work around the house, it’s allowed for a more balanced life for both myself and my wife,” he said.