Hello, fellow Canadian.
Can we talk? Because while September 18, 2022 is officially International Equal Pay Day, the pursuit of equality doesn’t just belong in the workplace. It also belongs inside your very home, with the balance––or lack thereof––of unpaid household work.
Work over your (her) lifetime: Paid and unpaid
Does Canada have equal pay? No. And the presence and negative impacts of the gender gap for paid and unpaid work exist at all stages of women’s lives. That means when your teenage daughter gets her first summer job, she’ll earn approximately $3 less per hour than her male counterpart (Girl Guides of Canada, 2018).
It means that when that same daughter finishes her post-secondary education, she’ll have the same student loans as her male graduates, but she’ll have lesser opportunity and means to pay it back (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2019).
It means that as a working adult in Canada today, she’ll earn .89 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same industry and role (Statistics Canada, 2021). Plus, she’ll experience less of an income return on her education than men, since she’s likely achieved a higher level of education than most of her male colleagues (Vanier Institute, 2022).
If she marries or lives common-law with a male partner, she’ll do about 16 hours of unpaid housework per week, compared to his 10 hours. Add children to the mix and that ratio widens–and not in her favour (Statistics Canada, 2022).
And this lack of gender equality Canada currently practices means she will contribute less to her pension over her lifetime and retire with only 80% of the pension men retire with (Mercer CFA Institute, 2021).
“My mom was the breadwinner and rushed home
to cook every night, then cleaned on weekends
while my dad was the ‘fun parent’.”
-Anonymous Reddit User
This Reddit user’s family experience is far from unique, but why? The Journal of Sociological Methods & Research published an interesting study in 2021, where researchers strived to answer this very question.
They found not only are women disproportionately thought to be responsible for housework than are men, but that widely shared cultural beliefs about gender and who is/should be responsible for housekeeping “act as implicit rules of the game and can powerfully shape the way we see housework and the way we see the people who are doing it.”
Because those rules inform our social interactions, “we can expect that, on average, women will continue to shoulder a greater burden of housework until we change the content of these rules of the game.”
In other words: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. But let’s take that one step further and say don’t hate the game … Change the game.
Gender Equality Canada: Jumpstart change at home
Maybe change is already afoot in your home. After all, 68% of Canadians are satisfied with how household tasks were shared with their spouse or partner (Statistics Canada, 2020). Sounds good, right? But that’s just part of the story, because when those survey respondents were broken down by traditional genders, female respondents were nearly twice as likely to be dissatisfied with the division of unpaid labour at home.
A huge challenge we face in identifying the true gap in gender equality Canada still faces is attaching accurate market value to house-related work. Lucky for us, Statistics Canada did just that recently.
While men tend to do chores like outdoor repairs, painting or renovations, taking out garbage, recycling, compost, and unpacking goods, women tend to take care of, well, most everything else (Statistics Canada, 2022). So, number crunchers at Stats Canada used this typical division of labour to work out the average replacement cost in take-home payment for men and women doing these jobs. And they determined people performing the typically “male” chores could expect to earn $23.74 per hour for those jobs. For chores classified as typically “women’s work” (like cooking, cleaning the house, and the brunt of the childcare), the hourly pay rate was tagged at just $17.62 (Statistics Canada, 2022).
This flags a critical and fundamental difference in the value of unpaid work done by women in the home, as well as the market wage gap between jobs done more by women than by men.
But it’s not all bad news. There are slow-but-steady shifts happening in which Dad is now seen as simply parenting his own children when Mom’s not home, rather than “babysitting” them. More parents are leaving Dad’s number as the “call first in emergencies” because he can get there faster. Both parents are running kids around to sports practices and lessons. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are pushing back against traditional gender roles, refusing to adhere to old-fashioned notions of “male” and “female” as oppositional states of being with defined roles and responsibilities.
Those shifts must be applied to all household chores, down to the last dish in the sink.
A new approach to balance the scales at home
Ladies: You don’t need to be breaking your back over chores at home. Gents, neither do you. Share the load equally between you. Then, reduce both your unpaid workloads by outsourcing what you can to a professional house cleaning service.
Chores like scrubbing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, showers and floors, dusting, full cabinet wipe-downs––you know, the stuff you don’t have to do daily but typically once every week or two––are tasks you can both take off your list of chores. Save yourself from arguments that arise all-too-easily after a long day at work, and buy back precious time and energy. The benefits are far greater than a clean bathroom.
But don’t just take it from us – take it straight from the horse’s mouth, aka, Reddit:
“Best $ spent in my relationship. Never having to fight about whose turn it is to clean the toilet, priceless.”
On the hunt for professional housecleaning services?
We get it.
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