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Some applications mimic enterprise software. Michael Perry, the founder of the app Maple, said his app, inspired by workplace tools like Slack and Trello, puts tasks in a “junkyard” where family members can select them via chat without having to A person commissioned.
Other approaches are inspired by research on domestic inequality. Rachel Draper, a researcher at Harvard Business School, has been working to integrate research on how couples can more successfully separate household chores into an upcoming app called FairShare. “A lot of the solutions are targeting women, and we think that misses the point,” she said. Drapper’s solution — which is still just a prototype — is to crowdsource data on how households allocate chores, and use the results to inform other households of what’s working and what’s not.
The problem is that these apps face a daunting task in trying to overturn entrenched social norms — girls in the kitchen with their mothers, boys playing with their fathers. This expectation is part of the reason women in heterosexual couples take on so much housework (same-sex couples are significantly more equal). This imbalance gets worse once women become mothers.
However, the problem is not if Men can play an equal role in household chores, but how. Not surprisingly, in a more egalitarian culture, men get a fairer share. And in those places, if neither side has the time and energy, the government itself may come to the rescue.In Sweden, where maximum amount The EU’s Gender Equality Index, State pays half of the bill Rent out chores like laundry and house cleaning, which means more busy families can afford it. This in turn contributes to women’s earning potential.In Belgium, similar countries subsidize outsourcing of housework lead to a significant increase in female employment.
Yet in the U.S., many women — mothers or not — are in times of crisis with few safety nets like affordable or subsidized child care or health care.
Part of the reason that apps can be difficult to seriously ease the burden of housework on women is that most of the labor women do is not physical, but mental and emotional. The burden still falls largely on women, who anticipate the needs of those around them and make day-to-day decisions on behalf of their families, said Alison Daminger, a doctoral student in sociology at Harvard. These tasks might include researching the best price on a couch or remembering that it’s time to schedule a child’s trip to the dentist. It’s a time-consuming job, even if it’s hidden from others most of the time.
Housekeeping app design is often further embedded in the status quo: often women delegate chores. “I can’t think of a time [in my research] A man makes a list for his wife, but I can think of a few examples where a wife makes a list for her husband,” Daminger said.
Jaclyn Wong, assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina, isn’t just an expert on the role of gender expectations in couple relationships. She’s also experimenting with her own app, a chores calendar that tries to avoid the gender trap by sharing the entire household chores for couples — women do the cooking and men do the yard work. It also aims to write down exactly what everyone is doing.
Chapman-Clark says making invisible labor visible in this way is a big benefit of using her chores app. “It really helps me notice when my husband is contributing, it helps my husband notice that there is more to the house than sweeping, vacuuming, cooking and washing dishes,” she said.
But not everyone likes seeing the difference between a couple’s contributions. Wong’s research shows that it’s an uphill battle: “There is resistance. When people are told they are not equal partners, they become defensive,” she noted. The risk is that even if it helps them in the long run, couples may drop an app for this reason.
While apps may be easy to access and use, they often appear to simply mask gender inequality in the household. In fact, if they’re seen as “management tools” rather than “partnership tools,” they can damage relationships, says Kate Mangino, author of a forthcoming book, equal partneron how to improve gender equality in the home.
“One way we make excuses for gender inequality is, ‘She’s the manager and I’m the helper,'” Mangino said, relaying her husband’s feelings. It creates a weird power dynamic that the app just reinforces.
The most important thing for the success of an application is to have the support of those partners who do less, which is not guaranteed. “The job of managing apps will still be considered a woman’s job,” Wong said. “We created these norms to give women and mothers the final say.”
At the end of the day, a chore app can only do so much to engage a reluctant partner, and it can’t eliminate centuries of sexism. It can help make it more obvious who is doing what around the house, but it can’t change that unless both members of a couple embrace the need to change – which remains the biggest hurdle.
“I am often [chore app] Entrepreneurs, and the feedback I almost always give is, ‘How are you going to make sure men are involved? ‘” Daminger said. “That’s the biggest hurdle, and I don’t know who has cracked it. ”