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🏠⏳ #17 | App v2 + COVID chores - what happened?

Updated: Oct 26


Photo by Michał Turkiewicz on Unsplash

TL;DR Executive Summary

  • A huge thank you to the team of 7 software developers at Softwire who have developed Fairshare v2, the diagnostic chore tracking element of the app

  • We are continuing to develop product ideas for couples to better share cooking

  • We are increasing our focus on sharing cognitive labour

  • We are collaborating with academics at Harvard Business School and University of Wisconsin–Madison to research what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to chore-sharing

  • US fathers’ shares of domestic labour increased less than 5 percentage points during the first year of the pandemic

 

📊 Statistic of the month US fathers’ shares of domestic labour increased less than 5 percentage points during the first year of the pandemic Source: Carlson, D.L., Petts, R.J., 2022, US Parents’ Domestic Labor During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

📢 Updates Softwire have built v2 of Fairshare! After an impressive 2,000+ hours of work, 2,000+ commits on Github, 128 merge pull requests, 4 product demos, and 1 whole-team dinner in Manchester, we have version 2 of the tracking/timing element of the app!


We are continuing to develop ways to illustrate and equalise the mental load. As Fairshare advisor Dr. Allison Daminger said so aptly in a recent interview:

“We focus so much on time; how many hours are you working on chores, cooking, and cleaning, and we haven’t really paid as much attention to the mental experience. And if we think about our mind space—our bandwidth—as an important resource, that seems a really important piece of the equation that we’re overlooking”

So far in the app, we ask a handful of questions relating to ‘invisible labour’ and share people’s responses with their partner, but we are aware much more needs to be done to crack this thorny issue - watch this space

We are collaborating with academics Allison Daminger of University of Wisconsin–Madison and Allie Feldberg and Kathleen McGinn of Harvard Business School to research how US couples divided chores during COVID, and where couples became more equitable, the processes that worked to achieve this change

 

🔎 Research of the month Carlson & Petts’ study of 700 US parents during the first year of COVID

  • Divisions of housework and childcare became more equal in the early months of the pandemic, supporting findings from other global research findings (Chung et al., 2021; Craig & Churchill, 2021; Ruppanner et al., 2021; Shafer et al., 2020; Yerkes et al., 2020)

  • That said, it was starting from an unequal place: 63% of study participants reported that the mother does most of the housework (see chart below)

  • Partnered mothers retained primary responsibility for domestic labour over the course of the pandemic and fathers’ shares never exceeded 50% on average

  • Furthermore, the change was not what many hoped it might be - US fathers’ shares of domestic labour increased only 4 percentage points from March to April 2020

  • One can interpret this finding in two ways: pessimistically, that even in the midst of a dramatic and unprecedented global pandemic, a 4 percentage point increase is of a very small magnitude; or, more optimistically, that a faster pace of progress is possible, since this change in only one month is roughly equivalent to the level of change that occurred over 25 years previously. Between 1985 and 2010, married fathers’ shares of core housework grew only 3.9 percentage points (19.4% to 23.3%) (Bianchi et al. 2012)

  • What led to this change?

  • The authors discuss a number of factors, including working hours and work location

  • Fathers performed a greater share of domestic labour (chores + childcare) when they spent fewer hours doing paid work and when they worked from home exclusively

  • Conversely, fathers performed a smaller share when mothers were not working and when mothers worked from home exclusively

  • Shifting from working full-time to part-time was associated with the largest increases in fathers’ shares

  • Unfortunately, the results from the study suggest that the progress towards parity may have been short-lived:

  • In April relative to March, both mothers and fathers were less likely to work full-time and more likely to not be working

  • While fathers’ employment levels rebounded between April and November (though not fully to pre-pandemic levels), mothers’ work status remained largely unchanged between April and November, indicating that women who had left the labour force early in the pandemic remained out of the labour force

  • Fathers’ divisions of domestic labour decreased from April to November 2020, to resemble pre-pandemic levels

Change in the division of housework during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Source: Carlson, D.L., Petts, R.J., 2022, US Parents’ Domestic Labor During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

📖 Content we are consuming


Thank you to all the Fairshare followers who sent in most of the content below - I really appreciate it and read it all!

  • Illustrator Emma (responsible for the viral ‘You Should’ve Asked’ comic in 2017) has recently posted a follow-on ‘Where Does It Go?’ This part stood out:

  • A recent post about sex and sharing chores on Reddit has taken off with 50k responses and 2.6k comments: “Study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, shows women in equal relationships (in terms of housework and the mental load) are more satisfied with their relationships and, in turn, feel more sexual desire than those in unequal relationships” (See Fairshare newsletter #15 for a summary of research on this topic)

  • The Unseen Inequity of Cognitive Labor, Harvard article on Fairshare's advisor Allison Daminger’s work and next steps

  • ‘The woman’s to-do list is relentless’: how to achieve an equal split of household chores, Guardian interview with Kate Mangino

  • Carlson & Petts’ 2022 paper on US Parents’ Domestic Labor During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

🥅 This month's goals

  1. Complete pitch video for Galvanizer pitch competition

  2. Shift to hypothesis-based testing approach to identify top source(s) of cooking-related conflict, and cooking tasks couples most want to share better

  3. Technical beta testing of Fairshare app v2

 

🔗 Media links MIT Technology Review Better Life Lab Interview Harvard Business School Harbus article Dr. Allison Daminger Dispatch interview

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