Conflicts in dual-earner families continue to exist as women are asked to perform more of the at-home duties even when they work long hours.
Youngjoo Cha, Cornell doctoral candidate in sociology, finds that having a husband who works 50 hours or more per week can hurt women’s careers.
Women have less time available to do paid work because they still are expected to do more housework and perform most of the caregiving responsibilities.
The findings are reported in the article, “Reinforcing Separate Spheres: The Effect of Spousal Overwork on Men’s and Women’s Employment in Dual-Earner Households” found in the journal American Sociological Review.
Cha’s work looked at 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 nonprofessional workers from dual-earner families, using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Her analysis shows that overall, having a husband who works 60 hours or more per week increases a woman’s odds of quitting by 42 percent.
However, for husbands, having a wife who works 60 hours or more per week does not significantly affect a man’s odds of quitting.
The odds of quitting increase by 51 percent for professional women whose husbands work 60 hours or more per week, and for professional mothers the odds they will quit their jobs jumps 112 percent.
By contrast, for professional men, both parents and non-parents, the effects of a wife working long hours are negligible.
“As long work-hours introduce conflict between work and family into many dual-earner families, couples often resolve conflict in ways that prioritize husbands’ careers,” Cha said. “Having a husband who works long hours significantly increases a woman’s likelihood of quitting, while having a wife who works long hours does not affect a man’s likelihood of quitting.
“This effect is magnified among workers in professional and managerial occupations, where the norm of overwork and the culture of intensive parenting tend to be strongest. The findings suggest that the prevalence of overwork may lead many dual-earner couples to return to a separate spheres arrangement — breadwinning men and homemaking women.”