The More Things Change, The More they Stay the Same: An Investigation of How Women Perceive Their Own Relationships and The Second Shift

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


The division of labor within households and amongst spouses has continued to be an issue even more so as our society has strayed away from the notion of the stay at home mother and breadwinner father. With women entering the workforce more and more and families becoming dual-income, the division of housework and family work seems yet to be distributed evenly and almost more difficult to distribute evenly. This is partly because of the gender ideologies that lie in our society; these ideas of what it means to be a woman in comparison to what it means to be a man and what tasks you should partake in solely based on your gender. In the literature, two major factors involving the division of household labor were presented and include how the housework is divided amongst partners as well as what is perceived as equal by the partners. My research examined: 1) how different individuals view the division of household labor. 2) what the idea of equal is to women. 3) why and how women feel that it is divided the way it is and how it reflects who they are and the way that they perceive their own relationships. This was carried out through conducting interviews amongst ten women; all of which live with their partner but not all have children. In the interviews I asked questions such as what household chores they do in comparison to their partner. How is the household labor is divided in their homes; is it discussed between the partners? Is the way they chose to divide housework fair and equal? If partners felt that the housework is divided unequally, I was interested in why and how they think it reached that point. Additionally, I was interested in how the idea of what it means to be a women and mother affects or influences how these women perceive their relationships. My research will provide an update to Arlie Hochschild’s study on The Second Shift and add to this topic by doing a generational study and focusing on the responses from two different age groups to understand the differences or similarities within the women, how they perceive their relationships, and how they participate in housework within their relationships. I argue that although, we have progressed as a society, in ways such as women entering the workforce, we continue to be stagnant in terms of the Second Shift and expectations based on gender ideologies and gendered housework.


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