A woman who’s searching for a partner may swipe through Tinder looking for someone who shares her love of old movies and interest in hiking. However, for a woman who wants to find a partner to have children with and to share in all that goes into raising them, a more important question may actually be, “are you willing to fold your half of the laundry even if we both work?” Most Americans are probably unsurprised to learn that women still perform the majority of housework and child care in heterosexual relationships. (Same-sex partners do better.) This is true when men and women are both employed full-time and when researchers account for all types of housework, including home repairs and lawn care.
Though women still do more housework and child care than their partners, significant progress has been made in closing this gender gap in recent decades. Compared to their fathers and grandfathers, dads today are more involved in the rearing of their children and regularly participate in routine housework. But beyond “pitching in,” there’s tons of evidence to suggest big benefits for everyone when men and women share equally in the family workload. The advantages that women gain from equal partnership are clear: Women’s labor force participation and wages would increase, women could more unabashedly pursue their careers, including promotions at all levels, and hopefully, a more equitable division of labor would reduce negative “motherhood” bias held by many employers.