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Seeing the mess: Gender, housework and perception

3:00pm-4:00pm on Thursday 21 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Free School Lane, CB2 3RH

The inequitable distribution of domestic and caring labour in different-sex couples has been a long-standing feminist concern. Some have hoped that having both partners at home during the COVID-19 pandemic would usher in a new era of equitable work and caring distributions. Contrary to these hopes, old patterns seemed to persist. Moreover, studies suggest that this inequitable distribution often goes unnoticed by the male partner.

This raises two questions. Why do women continue to shoulder a disproportionate amount of housework and childcare despite economic and cultural gains? And why is there a widespread one-sided misrepresentation within different-sex couples about how domestic and caring work is distributed between the two partners?

We answer these questions by appealing to affordance perception – the perception of possibilities for action in one’s environment. We propose an important gender disparity in the perception of affordances for domestic tasks such as the dishwasher affording emptying, the floor affording sweeping and a mess affording tidying. We argue that this contributes not only to the inequitable distribution of domestic labour but also to the frequent invisibility of that labour. We explore the consequences of this hypothesis for resistance and social change.

Booking/Registration is: UNAVAILABLE

Additional Information

Age: Adults
Format: Talk
Timing: In person
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: Drop-in event
Theme: Society
Accessibility: Lift, Step-free access, Accessible toilet
Image copyright: Liana Finck

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