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11 August 2011

Speak softly and carry a big broom


Brussels is unusually empty at the moment – it’s summer in the northern hemisphere and many city-dwellers have fled for the coasts.

I’m hosting family visiting from abroad.  Seeing Europe through fresh eyes is always a treat (last week my visiting mother was moved and dazzled by the history and raw beauty of the French Provence of Normandy – as many of you know, my long-time favourite place in the world – and do note that high summer in Normandy includes only the lightest of jackets). 


Of course hosting visitors means cleaning.  Cleaning quite a lot.  Probably just a tad more than one might normally clean so as to appear just slightly more civilized than one actually is.  My husband and I both work full time and travel for business on a consistent basis, which makes domestic duties a challenge, even sans children.  But I would say without hesitation that we share domestic duties – everything from finances to scrubbing the dishes.

Burdensome domestic duties have traditionally been cited as the cause for women struggling to hold down “two jobs” – one at the office, the other at home.  However, recent research shows that there is more gender parity in professional and domestic work in 2011 than ever before. 

PwC frequently works with Dr. Brad Harrington and his team at the Boston College Center for Work and Family, including their Global Workforce Roundtable.  In this short clip, Brad discusses his research, which was quoted in the cover story of Time Magazine this week, “Chore Wars”:

Work Life Wednesday: Chore Wars: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Brad suggests that in the past 20 years, men have adjusted to female partners with demanding jobs – in fact he says that men do about three times as much domestic work as they did just ten years ago.  Couples without children do the same amount of work.  Brad found that 77% of the men he interviewed wanted to spend more time with their children, while 56% also wanted to rise up to senior management at the office – statistics that promise conflicting priorities.

Hmmmm…sound familiar? 

In fact, another recent study indicated that in emerging markets, men desire (and in most cases take advantage of) flexible work options just as much or more than women do. 

Regardless of a family’s makeup – whether it’s dual-income, single-parent, domestic partners or any combination thereof, one thing is clear: in 2011, the work life issues we face as families are much less gender-specific than ever before.  Brad suggests that families can avoid conflict by discussing which percentage of paid versus unpaid work each family member will do.


This October, PwC will partner with The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society and CNBC to gather hundreds of opinions (on-line and on-site) on what women’s empowerment means for men.  Opinions will be gleaned from global thought leaders on the issue – and you, too!  


The dialogue promises to be provocative.  Does women’s empowerment mean fewer jobs for men?  Does it mean more or different jobs for men – and women?  Does women’s empowerment mean more choices for both sexes?  A more healthy society?  Better childcare?  Better economic stability?  What are the micro and macro implications of women’s empowerment in a globalized environment?

Watch this space for more both on-line and on-site in Deauville, France (the on-site panel discussion in France will feature PwC’s Global Chairman, Dennis Nally, and thought-leaders Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Jeremy Adam Smith).

But coming up next, we have a guest blog lined up featuring some “aha” moments from our female staff at PwC Bermuda.  Stay tuned…

à bientôt,



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Very interesting article. It's nice to hear some good news on this topic at last! One thing that seems be a bit misleading is that they are counting the total time spent in work, paid or unpaid. I like how the video explains that women still do more unpaid work than men, even if the total time is roughly similar. But I do think this is a very important difference.

Another important point is a lot of men's conflict around spending time with their children while also wanting to progress. I hope this will be a call for work/life balance rather than just assuming people have to realise they are incompatible.

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