A new study finds that men and women increasingly desire egalitarian relationships, yet household labor often remains gendered and imbalanced. So what’s the holdup? Study co-author, sociologist Sarah Thébaud, explains to USA Today that workplace policies surrounding paid leave, flexible scheduling, and child care are making it harder for couples to balance household work:
“There is a lot of research showing that, in today’s economy, it is tremendously challenging for couples to strike an egalitarian division between work and family responsibilities. … Women who ‘opt out’ of full-time careers often report doing so not because it was their ideal preference, but because the inflexibility of their work hours or the high costs of childcare left them with few options. This limited set of options ends up reinforcing gender inequality, despite the fact that people are increasingly endorsing more gender-egalitarian attitudes and beliefs.”
Co-author David Pedulla adds that women, especially, need supportive workplace policies:
“[If] supportive policies are in place, women are much more likely to prefer egalitarian relationships and much less likely to prefer neo-traditional relationships.”
The study is based on a 2012 survey of a representative group of 18 to 32-year-old unmarried, childless men and women in the United States.