According to the longitudinal study, not only are female breadwinners likely to earn much less than male breadwinners, but they continue to be burdened with more housework and childcare than men. These results indicate traditional gender roles in Australian households are refusing to shift – regardless of a woman’s income.
When women are the primary income earner, they earn, on average, $73, 988 per year, compared to $107, 366 for men.
And, unlike men who are the primary breadwinners, female primary breadwinners don’t have partners who take on most of the household labour. Men engaged in five hours less housework and eight hours less childcare in families where the woman was the primary income earner.
Among heterosexual couples with dependent children, total working time (including paid work, housework and childcare) is approximately equal for males and females in male breadwinner families, slightly higher for females in approximately-even couples, and substantially higher for women in female breadwinner households.
Female breadwinners in households with dependent children did the most unpaid weekly work of anyone at 43.4 hours per week. Male breadwinners did 26.2 hours of unpaid work.
In couples where the female is the breadwinner, men have slightly increased the amount of time they spend on housework and childcare since 2004, by an average of two hours per week.
Between 2002-2004, men in a household with a female breadwinner spent 17.1 hours on housework and 9.4 hours on childcare. Between 2015-2017, men spent 19.1 hours on housework and 11.2 hours. This slight increase has had little impact on the total working time of males relative to females, as female breadwinners continue to do the most work, paid or unpaid, of anyone.
“In the absence of these social norms and gender roles you might have thought there would be more couples where it makes sense for the women to be the primary breadwinner,” Professor Roger Wilkins, lead author of HILDA, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’ve become set in our ways is one way of looking at it.”