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Heterosexual and homosexual couples split household chores by ‘gender’

Heterosexual and homosexual couples split household chores by ‘gender’

Splitting household chores like making dinner or fixing a broken cupboard is generally split between the genders, and a new study has found that this is true even in same-sex relationships.

U.S. researcher Natasha Quadlin and her team discovered that gender still dictates who does what at home, with either the woman or more feminine partner in a gay relationship taking on the lion share of childcare tasks, grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning. As for the partner deemed more masculine, it was more likely they’d be tasked with automobile maintenance and outdoor chores.

“Even in same-sex couples where there are not sex differences between partners, people use gender differences as a way to approximate sex differences," Natasha, a doctoral student in sociology at Indiana University, shared.

According to Natasha, this is the first study that looks at Americans' beliefs about how partners should divide chores and childcare tasks.

Natasha and co-author Long Doan, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, looked at responses from a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 adults in 2015 to determine which characteristics, including relative income, masculine or feminine traits, and sex, shape Americans' ideas about how married couples should divide household labour, including indoor and outdoor chores, as well as childcare.

"Sex was by far the strongest determinant of which tasks people assigned to each spouse in heterosexual couples," Natasha said. "But, surprisingly, that theme extended to same-sex couples. When there wasn't a sex difference between partners, people relied on information about gender to guide their beliefs about what people should be doing.

“So, in other words, they took the heterosexual norm, where there are certain chores that men are expected to do and certain chores that women are expected to do, and used that same rationalisation to determine household responsibilities for same-sex couples.”

She adds the team was surprised by their findings, as they thought same-sex partners would have been more equal when it came to household jobs.

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