Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gender Roles in American Households Essay

The social phenomenon of changing gender roles in American households is explored in this paper. Are men and women sharing more equally in assuming household responsibilities? Do women still bear the majority of the responsibility? How do race, age, and cultural influence play a role in the division of labor in the household? I have done research on the change in gender roles among people of different ages, genders, and race. Data was collected to see if there is a difference in change between races, if there is a significant change in roles between generations, and if men and women view the change the same or differently. To gain the data I used surveying and interviewing as my research methodologies. These methods were used as they were the most practical ways to obtain enough information needed to form conclusions. Caucasian, Asian, and African Americans of both genders and diverse ages were surveyed and interviewed. I feel my research will show that with each generation, as more women entered the work force, the households of all races have undergone significant change in which women and men are sharing both work and domestic duties more equitably. That being said, the distribution of domestic chores does contribute to household stratification of gender roles. Both currently and historically race plays a role in that stratification. Gender role research is socially relevant because each individual in a household is impacted by it. Gender roles in the household can be a factor in whether a marriage is happy and successful. They also influence decision making in the family and parent and child relationships. Researchers could use my data to delve deeper into the impact of gender roles in different types of households. Since everyone grows up in some type of household setting, the research could have far reaching implications for most of the population. The first research method I choose to collect data is the survey. Using a survey to collect data allowed me to reach a large number of people. Family and friends helped in distributing and collecting the surveys. My parents work at a hospital, my Aunt is a teacher, and my friend attends a large university. That allowed me to reach the age groups, genders, and races I needed in order to collect enough data. Included in my survey were both questions about today and about the past. In addition, using a survey allowed me to ask questions that were not opened ended and could easily be converted to statistical data. In the end, I had responses from a minimum of fifteen respondents in each of eighteen categories. The categories are Caucasian females ages 19-30, Caucasian males ages 19-30, Caucasian females ages 31-49, Caucasian males ages 31-49, Caucasian females ages 50 and above, Caucasian males age 50 and above, and the same for both African Americans and Asian Americans. Because of the large number of groups I needed to collect data on, I felt 15 individuals per category would be a large enough number to get a representative sample. I looked at the responses and felt I had a good sample. Had that not been the case, I would have handed out more surveys. Included in the survey were questions on the household the person grew up in and questions about their household today. For example, respondents were asked if they were raised in a two parent home. This is a question I checked the responses to when I determined if I had collected enough surveys. It was necessary to have enough positive answers to this question since gender roles is the issue I am looking at. Also on the survey were questions asking your race and age, who you were raised by, if your mother worked outside the home, percentage of division of household chores, and whether the perceived change in gender roles is positive. I did not have any problems with the survey itself. The only difficulty was finding fifteen respondents for a few of the categories. The second research methodology I used was the interview. In interviewing I was hoping to be able to ask follow up questions and steer the interview in a direction that would supply me with the information I needed. The survey did not lend itself to follow up questions. In addition, participant observation and experimentation methodologies were not at all suited to investigate the question of changing household gender roles. I interviewed one person from each of the three races I was researching. In addition, each was from a different age category. All of the interviews were conducted separately as I would not have wanted to inconvenience the people who were nice enough to participate. All were interviewed once in an informal manner since I believe that discussing your childhood and present home life is best accomplished in a comfortable setting. I interviewed Dr. Espejo, a 49 year old of Asian decent by telephone as she was unavailable in person. Helen Bonokallie, a 24 year old of African decent was my second interview. I spoke with Helen at her workplace as she works third shift and that was most convenient for her. My last interview was with Sylvia Johnson, a 66 year old Caucasian. I interviewed her in her living room. I have known Sylvia my entire life and have a close personal bond with her. Aside from choosing my subjects for interviewing and directing the questions to get the answers I needed I did not shape the outcome of the interview. The survey results revealed several trends related to gender roles in American families. The following charts and statistical analysis help to clarify the collected data from the surveys. The three tables that follow represent each of the three races I surveyed. Each chart shows the three age groups surveyed and their responses to two questions. The first, as a child what percentage of household work was done by each of your parents? The second, in your home today, what percentage of household work is done by the male and what percentage is done by the female? Looking at the charts a few trends are seen. First, regardless of race, the percentage of work done by the male is greater in the adult household as compared to the father in the childhood home. That indicates that with each generation gender roles in the home have changed. Ratio of CaucasianCaucasianCaucasianCaucasianCaucasianCaucasian work doneAge 19-30Age 19-30Age 31-49Age 31-49Age 50+Age 50+ female:malechildhoodadultchildhoodadultchildhood adult In %householdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhousehold 50-504%40%0%38%0%0% 60-400%40%4%31%0%40% 70-3012%20%15%23%0%40% 75-250%0%11%8%0%13% 80-2014%0%0%0%20%7% 85-1512%0%11%0%3%0% 90-1058%0%30%0%30%0% 95-50%0%11%0%27%0% 100-00%0%18%0%20%0%. Ratio of AsianAsianAsianAsianAsianAsian work doneAge 19-30Age 19-30Age 31-49Age 31-49Age 50+Age 50+ female:malechildhoodadultchildhoodadultchildhood adult householdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhousehold 50-500%26%0%0%0%0% 60-400%39%0%16%0%0% 70-307%30%0%36%0%28% 75-2510%0%0%12%0%0% 80-2023%5%17%24%3%22% 85-157%0%10%12%13%0% 90-1050%0%30%0%23%36% 95-50%0%30%0%25%0% 100-03%0%13%0%36%14% Ratio of African AfricanAfricanAfricanAfricanAfrican work doneAge 19-30Age 19-30Age 31-49Age 31-49Age 50+Age 50+ female:malechildhoodadultchildhoodadultchildhood adult householdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhouseholdhousehold 50-500%0%0%0%0%6%. 60-400%63%0%18%0%18% 70-3031%31%7%28%0%38% 75-2531%0%8%12%5%7% 80-2015%6%8%36%25%12% 85-150%0%23%0%0%0% 90-1023%0%46%6%30%19% 95-50%0%8%0%25%0% 100-00%0%0%0%15%0% In addition, under no circumstance did the males of any race or age perform more household work than the females. The data also shows that there is no difference in gender roles today among Caucasians, African Americans, and Asian Americans in the 19-30 age group. In the Asian American group of individuals fifty and older, 72% of women still do 80-100% of the household work today. In contrast, in the same age group, only 7% of Caucasian women and 31% of African American women perform 80-100% of household work. According to the 2004 United States Census, 69% of Asians were born in another country (Lee and Pituc 2007). This is significant in that many older Asian-Americans adhere to traditional cultural values. Traditional Asian gender roles prescribe for women to place the role of wife and mother above all others: men are expected to be the breadwinner and spokesperson. Asian cultural values consequently encourage distinct spheres for men and women and a gendered household division of labor in which the burden of household duties such as housekeeping tasks and childcare rest heavily on women (Lee and Pituc 2007: 1). The following graph was compiled based on the survey question; did your mother work outside the home? The y-axis is percentage of working mothers and the x-axis is the age of those surveyed. The graph shows that over time more mothers have become workers outside the home. It also indicates that for all age categories >70% of African American women were in the workforce. Kane stated â€Å"White women have a history of lower levels of labor force participation and higher levels of economic dependence on men than do African-American women† (2000 p. 421). This graph when looked at in conjunction with the 3 charts above shows a correlation between women working outside the home and men giving more help around the house. The last survey question was do you think the change in gender roles in the household is positive or negative. The results were 99% positive and 1% negative. The information obtained from my interviews mirrored the information I got from the surveys. Talking to Sylvia, the 66 year old Caucasian, the idea that generation and women in the workplace play a part in changing gender roles was reinforced. Sylvia related what her home was like as a child, indicating that household work was entirely done by her non-working mom. Her home on the other hand is different in that her husband does help out to some extent. She also said her children’s homes are even more equitable when it comes to dividing household chores. Dr. Espejo’s parents worked together and shared responsibilities in the home. It is the same in her home today, where she and her husband, both physicians, share household duties. Dr. Espejo stated that she feels sharing of household responsibilities strengthens the relationship between a husband and wife and between parents and children. This may be explained by a 2003 study conducted by Y. Espiritu. Trask (2006) states: Based on an analyses of various studies of Asian-American families, Espiritu found that more educated couples tended to share and practice greater egalitarian relationships within households. While women still performed more of the housework, their husbands did participate in all aspects of family work. This increased participation by men may be explained due to an equal monetary contribution from men and women which led to wives successfully forcing their husbands to participate in domestic chores. (P. 4) In my interview with Helen, she pointed out that sharing responsibility around the house helps to equalize the stress between both male and female. In the African- American household she grew up in her father did the cooking and laundry while her mother cleaned and helped the children with homework. A recent study has a possible explanation for the sharing of household work in Helen’s childhood home. The study concluded, â€Å"When referencing the family and work, black men may be less traditional because they are more sensitive to oppression in general, may share resistance with black women to racial inequality, and often gain acceptance of women in the workforce during early years while being raised by a single working mother† (Carter 2006: 209). In addition, Blee and Tickamyer state, â€Å"African American men do not equate masculinity with success, wealth, ambition, and power, but rather with self-determinism and accountability† (1995 p. 21). All three interview subjects expressed that change in gender roles where there is a more equal distribution of household responsibilities is very positive. The research I have done shows that over time gender roles have changed among the three races I studied. Every group I looked at had fathers who helped out less around the house than the males in their homes today. One important reason for this could be the fact that over time more women have entered the workforce outside the home. It simply has become a necessity for men to help out more around the house. In addition to more women in the work force, culture and race play a role in gender and the household stratification of gender roles. Culture remains important to many Asians Americans, especially the older generation. In those cultures Asian men are seen as the breadwinner and women as household caretakers. That dictates women being almost entirely responsible for the household. In contrast, African American men do not define their masculinity by success, but instead by accountability. That leads to many African American men being more equitable in sharing household chores. Since everyone in a household is affected by gender roles, this subject is very important socially. It is a subject worth investigating further as the findings could impact many people. References Blee, Kathleen and Ann Tickamyer. 1995. â€Å"Racial Differences in Men’s Attitudes about Women’s Gender Roles. † In Journal of Marriage and Family. Vol. 57, pps 21-30. Carter, J. Scott and Mamadi Corra. 2009. â€Å"The Interaction of Race and Gender: Changing Gender Role Attitudes, 1974-2006. † In Social Science Quarterly. Vol. 90, pps 196-211 Kane, Emily. 2000. â€Å"Racial and Ethnic Variations in Gender-Related Attitudes. † In Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 26, pps 419-436 Lee, Sandra and Stephanie Pituc. 2007. â€Å"Asian Women and Work-Family Issues. † In Sloan Work and Family Research Encyclopedia. pps 1-6 Trask, Bahira. 2006. â€Å"Traditional Gender Roles. † In Sloan Work and Family Research Encyclopedia. pps 1-5.

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