Gender Inequality

Can a new chores app encourage men to do more housework and help close the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report shows it will take another 131 years before gender parity is reached.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report shows it will take another 131 years before gender parity is reached. Image: Unsplash/Tim Mossholder

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Gender Inequality

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This article was orginally published on 24 July 2023. It was updated on 3 August 2023.

  • Spain is launching a new app to highlight the uneven way household chores are typically shared out between men and women in the country.
  • The "invisible" chores all add up and create a mental load that is usually shouldered by women, research shows.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report shows it will take another 131 years before gender parity is reached.

It may be a gender stereotype, but it is also a truism: around the world, on average, women do far more household chores than men. Now the Spanish government has created an app to see just how true that is in each household – and encourage men to share the burden.

The free app will allow each member of the household to track how much time they spend on domestic chores, reports The Guardian. It’s also designed to highlight all the often invisible jobs that are necessary to keep a house running smoothly.

For example, although washing the dishes might only take 20 minutes, before that someone has to plan out meals, shop for ingredients, and buy the washing-up liquid, explained Ángela Rodríguez, second-in-command in Spain’s Ministry of Equality, as she announced the plans.

The “mental load” for these chores often falls to women, she said.

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Just under half of women perform the majority of housework in Spain, compared to just 15% of men, according to a survey published by the country’s statistics agency in 2022.

Figure showing the gender gaps in housework participation.
Gender gaps in housework are the most marked among couples with families. Image: EIGE

And it is a trend seen throughout Europe, with research from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) showing housework is the most unequally shared of the three most common forms of unpaid care – the other two being childcare and care for older people or those with disabilities.

Ninety-one percent of women with children spend at least an hour each day doing housework, while only 30% of men do, EIGE figures show. Employed women spend about 2.3 hours daily on housework, while employed men spend 1.6 hours.

However, in many cases men would like to take on more of the responsibility around the home, but are prevented from doing so by outdated norms and policies, according to recent research. The report Research for the State of the World's Fathers 2023 shows that, despite many men taking on more caring responsibilities during the pandemic, a lot of workplaces do not support men’s care, there are too few policies underpinning it and many boys grow up without seeing their father role-modeling caregiving.

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What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

Closing the gender gap

The World Economic Forum’s own research demonstrates a marginal improvement in the global gender gap since last year. However, the rate of change has slowed significantly since the pandemic.

Ranking illustrating the global gender gap index, 2023.
Nine of the top 10 countries have closed their gender gap by at least 80%. Image: World Economic Forum

At the current rate of progress, it will take 131 years to reach parity, although nine of the top 10 countries have closed their gender gap by at least 80%. This is against an all-country figure of 68.4%.

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