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Housework is an Academic Issue

Londa Schiebinger

Published on January 19, 2010 in Academe, the study by Clayman Director Londa Schiebinger shows academic scientists spend about 19 hours a week on basic household chores. Whether you realize it or not, all that nagging housework can be eating into your job productivity and getting in the way of you getting ahead in your career - especially if you're a woman, says Schiebinger.

These findings have important policy implications. Over the past three decades, governments, universities, and industries have dedicated often robust resources to efforts to increase the number of women scientists - and yet progress in attracting more women to science has stalled. The 2009 National Academies report Gender Differences at Critical Transitions stresses that research must explore "gender differences in the obligations outside of professional responsibilities" in order to understand women's career choices and outcomes more fully.

If universities offered a benefit to pay someone else to do that work, scientists would have more time to spend on the jobs they're trained for.

On April 7th, the Clayman Institute hosted a panel discussion on this innovative proposal titled, Housework Matters.