My aim is to investigate whether working mothers in dual-worker families are more likely to be involved in domestic tasks then their partners.
In reference to my aim I believe that equality does not exist in society from surveys sociologists believe that although men may contribute to domestic tasks, inequality will always exist. I am living in a society where many mothers are working due to equal opportunities in the present society than there was decades back. Many surveys and studies have been carried out in relation to my aim; A legal & general survey was carried out in April 2000 about inequality and that women are more likely to be involved in domestic tasks, this will be more developed in section 2 (context). Therefore inequality is supported by many studies and surveys.
I will consider why working mothers are more likely to be involved in domestic tasks and whether patriarchy still exists. As I am mainly focusing on working mothers this means I will also focus on childcare along with domestic division of labour therefore I will include the concepts of ‘inequality’ and femininity’ as feminists estimate the ability of women. Women are also stereotyped to be involved in domestic tasks and childcare as well as having paid jobs; which will bring up the issue of mothers having a ‘dual burden’ and gender roles in society.
With all the research and contextual pieces I believe I would fine that inequality still exists and will exist in some way or another.
As I outlined in my rationale I will mainly be focusing on working mothers in relation to domestic division of labour and childcare, therefore I will be identifying the cause of inequality. A Legal ; General survey was carried out in April 2000 for the insurance firm found that full-time working mothers spent 56 hours per a week on domestic tasks and childcare compared with men’s 31 hours. This increased to 84 hours if the women had children aged 3 and under.
The Future Foundation survey of October 2000 was more positive. It found that women were receiving more help in the home from husbands and boyfriends. Two-thirds of men said they did more around the home than their fathers. However, even at this rate women will have to wait at least another 15 years before tasks are shared equally. This evidence therefore shows that women are still likely to have a ‘dual burden’ they are expected to be mainly responsible for the greater part of domestic tasks at the same time having full-time jobs.
On the other hand Baxter and Western (1998) from ‘Back to the Future Sociology Review vol. no.2 argue that women deal with situations over which they have little control by defining them as satisfactory. Men may have strict and demanding work schedules that make it difficult for them to meet up to the family responsibilities. However criticisms of these men do tend to have more control and freedom over their spare time whereas women do not really have a choice and are unable to have control due to the caring responsibilities.
I believe that the concept of inequality in domestic division of labour is something that women are stereotypically known to do. Women continue to see housework and childcare as a crucial part of being a good wife and mother therefore they are more likely to be pleased with an unequal domestic division of labour than women who refuse these roles. There are three major theoretical explanations of inequalities in power and control in families. Functionalists see sexual division of labour in the homes as biologically inevitable. They believe that women are naturally suited to the caring and emotional role.
Marxist-feminists argue the housewife role serves the needs of capitalism in that it maintains the future work-force and reproduces future labour-power. Radical-feminists such as Delphy (1984) believe that a household role is created by patriarchy and related to the service of men and their interests. Like functionalism, both Marxist and radical forms of feminism sees women’s exploitation and oppression as rooted in their biological role of mothers; therefore women feel it is there duty and are stereotyped to be in charge of the domestic life. Some women feel housework and childcare, like paid work has a real and positive meaning, this is why women feel it is work done for ‘love’ and it shows their commitments to their families.
The concept of femininity can be seen as a female subjectivity and stress their ideological role, but the debate in femininity often lapse in essentialism. Feminists have highlighted the influence of patriarchal ideology on the view of both husbands and wives. Surveys indicate that many women accept primary responsibility for housework and childcare without question and believe that their career should be secondary to that of their husband. Such ideas are also reflected in state policy which encourages female economic dependence upon men. Furthermore, patriarchal ideology expects women to take on jobs that are compatible with family commitments. Surveys suggest that a large number of mothers feel guilty bout working. Some actually give up work altogether because they believe that their absence somehow damages their children.
Some feminist sociologists have concluded that women’s participation in the labour market is clearly limited by their domestic responsibilities. Due to these responsibilities, very few women have continuous full-time careers. Mothers then, tend to have jobs while their husbands have careers. As a result women do not have the same access to promotion and training opportunities as men. Some employers may believe that women are unreliable because of family commitments and consequently discriminate against them. On the other hand feminists may under-estimate the degree of power that women actually enjoy.
Women are concerned about the amount of housework men do, but they probably more concerned about whether men show enough appreciation or whether they listen to them. The fact that many women divorce their husbands indicates that women have the power to leave a relationship if they are unhappy with it. Catherine Hakim (1996) suggests that feminists under-estimate a women’s ability to make realistic choices. It is not patriarchy or men that are responsible foe their position of women in families. She argues that women choose to give their commitment to family and children consequently they have less commitment to work than men have.
There will be a number of problems by carrying out my questionnaire. Respondents may not understand the working of the questions, this could lead to dissatisfaction and a failure to respond therefore I have to make sure the questions are not complicated and the expressions are clear, so that it is easy for the respondents to understand. It is also important that the question are related to my aim and don’t go off the point. Because of my own beliefs I have to ensure that I do not use ‘Leading Question’ the leading question will produce a biased questionnaire, this will not give validity to my research.
The major problem I may come across in my research is respondents with a vested interest in the area of research; they may complete the questionnaire but produce an unrepresentative sample. Even a Pilot study might not correct this basic idea, which will make my research worthless.
Working mothers may not have time to complete the questionnaire due to the fact that they are working and have a burden of domestic tasks, this may lead to ignorance and a low response rate is possible. This will make my survey useless, as I wouldn’t know if the small numbers of replies are representative.
The cost of producing the questionnaire may be a lot because I will need to produce fifty questionnaires, travel to the different areas and give the questionnaire by hand myself. This will be hard because I will need to gain trust from the women, so that they believe me and not ignore me.
My final problem is that people do not reply to questionnaires unless there is some benefit to them, like a chance to win a prize. This can be a serious drawback because I will not benefit them with a prize.