Vive La Difference? Gender Divides Remain in Housework, Child Care

On any given day, women are more likely than men to be grooming the house--and themselves.

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The pay gap is one measure of the divide between men and women in America, but it can be more fascinating to look into the time gap. Last year, women did far more housework and child-rearing than their male counterparts, while men stayed at the office longer than women, according to the Labor Department's 2011 American Time Use Survey. The latest time use report provides a detailed look at how Americans are spending their time, including a breakdown by gender. Below, a quick look at who's weeding the garden, cleaning the house, and watching TV.

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Men: Staying at the Office Longer

On average, employed men work 47 minutes longer per day than employed women—and though this in part reflects women's greater likelihood to work part time, a similar pattern exists when only full-time workers are considered. Men who work full time put in around half an hour more than their women peers on workdays, pulling 8.3-hour days to full-time-working women's 7.8 hours.

Women: Keeping the Nest in Order (at least on the inside)

On average, men spend one third as much time on housework as women, with men spending around 16 minutes per day on it, while women spend around 52 minutes. Furthermore, far more women do housework—nearly 83 percent say they do on an average day, versus 65 percent of men.

And though marriage often comes with a division of labor, the brunt of the work in married households with children is still falling upon women. The data for these couples covers the timeframe of 2005 to 2009, and shows that married men with kids who worked full time spent around 14 minutes a day on housework, compared to 51 minutes for married moms who also worked full time.

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However, men are pulling their weight somewhere: outside. They spend around 16 minutes per day, on average, on lawn and garden care, compared to around eight minutes for women. Of course, no one can mow the lawn every day. On days that they engage in lawn and garden care, men spend over two and a quarter hours on these activities, compared to less than two hours for women.

Men: Kicking Back

Men have a clear advantage when it comes to chilling out. Men say that on an average day, they spend over four hours on "relaxing and leisure," including around three hours of TV-watching. Women have at least a half an hour less of R&R, which seems to translate into that much less time in front of the tube: Women watch an average of 2.5 hours of TV per day.

Women: Watching the kids

Among married mothers who were employed full time in 2005 to 2009, 72.1 percent said that on an average day they cared for and helped their children, spending an average of 1.22 hours on that task. Dads were more hands-off; full-time employed fathers spent 52 minutes caring for kids, on average, and only 55.1 percent did so on the average day.

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Men: The Strong, Silent Types

Women are slightly more likely than men to be out and about—around 39 percent of women engage in socializing and communicating per day, on average, compared to 32 percent of men. In addition, men are less interested in correspondence: 16.5 percent of men engage in telephone calls and household and personal mail and E-mail on any given day, compared to 25.7 percent of women, on average.

Women: Working Hard(er than Men) at Looking Good

Women spend around 49 minutes per day on grooming, roughly 15 minutes longer than men do, on average. In addition, more women are primping than men—82.4 percent, on an average day, compared to around 76 percent of guys.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter at @titonka or via E-mail at