, Volume 42, Issue 5-6, pp 339-361

Multicultural Women's Experience of Household Labor, Conflicts, and Equity

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Abstract

This study examines a group of 419 multicultural women (64 African Americans, 136 Asian Americans, 171 Hispanic Americans, and 48 Middle Eastern Americans) from Southern California. It examines Chafetz's thesis that women with macrolevel power (high socioeconomic status, SES) will show higher levels of conflict with their spouses over household labor. Such conflict is expected to relate to dissatisfaction with the division of household labor as well as time or task differences with spouses over housework. The multicultural women in this study differed among themselves by SES (proportional income, job status, and education) as well as by the household time and tasks with their spouses, but such factors did not influence conflict. Results indicate that regardless of ethnicity or macrolevel power, multicultural women who perform more household tasks than other women are more dissatisfied with the division of labor. These variables alone influence the number of conflicts per week reported by racial and ethnic couples. When reasons for conflict are compared, the equity issue of “unfair share” is cited more frequently than any others. In general, comparisons with one's spouse on traditional “woman's tasks” and time on “women's work” are not salient to the experience of household labor conflicts among multicultural women even when macrolevel power is attained. The majority of our respondents earn 39% of the household income and work for pay ≥30 hr/week, yet perform the majority of necessary household labor. The proportional income and overall education levels of this sample are similar to Census Bureau statistics for their respective U.S. groups in 1995–1996.