A Housework Benefit? Really?!?

Stanford’s Clayman Institute posted an interesting article to its blog today about the amount of time academic scientists spend doing housework — 19 hours per week, to be exact — and the impact of that work on job productivity. Their assessment? Universities should offer a “housework” benefit to enable women to spend more time doing what they’re paid for.

Seriously? I’m as much of a feminist as anyone, and deeply interested in gender equity in the workplace. And I’d totally *love* to have a housework benefit — I mean, who wouldn’t? But their argument that it isn’t a “good use of resources to to be training people in science and then having them do laundry” is a hard one to swallow. If that’s the litmus test, then really, is it a good use of resources to care for ones children, shop for clothes, or read a book for pleasure? If I gave up all of those things, I’d have a *ton* more time to spend at work. How great would that be? (kidding)

Yes, I get that women are disproportionally saddled with housework. I would think that single people of both sexes are, too. But is this really something that eats into one’s work time, or prevents someone from taking a demanding job? And isn’t the benefit of taking a high-level, professional job the relatively high-level salary that goes with it (which, presumably, can be used to pay someone else to do your housework)?

For me, the trade-off I make is not between professional work and housework, it’s a trade-off between housework and other ways to spend my personal time. Guess what doesn’t get done at my house, very often? C’est la vie…

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