1 Feb 2011

This Just In: "Women's Work" On The Decline

Who the hell vacuums linoleum?
Image Source: news.com.au
There was a study done recently in Australia regarding "Male and Female Roles in the 21st Century" that people are pooping their pants over, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Ready for your own bowel movement? Here's how the findings were described in an article in The Sunday Mail, "Generation Y women losing 'female' skills such as cooking, ironing and sewing."

BASIC "female" skills are becoming endangered with fewer young women able to iron a shirt, cook a roast chicken or hem a skirt.

Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily, reported The Courier-Mail.

Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.

Baking lamingtons is a dying art with 20 per cent of Gen Y capable of whipping up the Aussie classic, down from 45 per cent for previous generations.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said: "Women of today tend to be busier, juggling more roles, and are quite prepared to compromise a bit of the homemade just to save some time.

"They also have a lot more disposable income compared with their mums and their grandmothers so buying a cake mix or lamingtons ready-made is not a big deal."

Traditional skills outside the kitchen are falling by the wayside with Gen Y women woefully behind their older counterparts, the study by McCrindle Research found. Only 23 per cent can grow a plant from a cutting when 78 per cent of older women say this is a breeze.

"We live in a throw-away culture where, rather than repair something, we will buy a new one, even if it is just a matter of darning holes or sewing on buttons," Mr McCrindle said.

"As such, many women have lost these skills. If we do want something repaired, women today are more likely to take it to their local drycleaner because they are busy and can afford it."

Driving manual cars is also on the decline with just 40 per cent of women under 30 possessing this skill compared to 71 per cent of older women.

The results tally with a recent survey, which found that Australian men from Gen Y were more comfortable changing a nappy than changing a tyre.

But Gen Y women are taking on other skills.

As well as working full or part-time, they are doing tasks previously done by men.

More than 70 per cent of women under 30 say they often take out the bins, 77 per cent mow the lawn and 70 per cent claim they wash the car.
Even more entertaining than the article are the comments. They range from people raging out over the fact that cooking and cleaning are being referred to as "female" skills, men bemoaning the loss of domestically-minded wives, women bemoaning the loss of 'handy' husbands, and people making fun of Gen Y as a whole.

I'm on Team Mock The Twenty-somethings. When you look at the study and see what fantastic things Gen Y'ers can do, the following accomplishments are listed:
  • 100% (of surveyed Gen Y women) can upload a photo to Facebook (compared to 58% of Boomers)
  • 94.3% can text a picture from a mobile phone (compared to 52.6% of Boomers)
  • 91.4% can pay a bill online (compared to 77.6% of Boomers)
  • 85.7% can book a restaurant online (compared to 57% of Boomers)
Congrats, Gen Y, your skill is the ability to press a button. *Slow clap*

Of course, most twenty-somethings I know can do more than that - but it's fair to say that the "domestic arts" have taken a backseat to other things in life. The fact that it took my goofy 50s Housewife Experiment to get me to clean the oven for the first time in years is pretty evident of that - but I don't particularly think that's something to be proud of.

Many of the comments after that article suggest the fact that women aren't versed in so-called "female" skills is progress - and I'm baffled by that, frankly. While I applaud and rally for gender equality (in both the home and work), it seems the thing that's bringing men and women closer together is our shared inability to do anything.

Can't cook? Just blow your money on take-out and processed crap!
Can't clean, iron a shirt or mow your lawn? Just put it on your credit card!
Can't fix anything? Just toss it in the dump and buy a new one!

How evolved of us. Is there any wonder why we're increasingly becoming a fat, broke and polluted society?


Charlotte 3:47 pm, February 01, 2011  

I thought about you and the 50s housewife experiment this morning when I fixed the rip in my duvet cover.

I think part of it is our parents haven't taught us HOW to do those things. My mother could sew very well, but she never taught me despite me asking when I was about 8-9.

Di Smith 4:16 pm, February 01, 2011  

Humph. Well, I can cook a roast and drive a stick shift, but does that make me more of a woman? Or less "progressed?" Nope. Strange how we try to box stuff up... I like your response and ponderings. More food for thought than the bowel-movement-inducing survey.

Lemur 4:17 pm, February 01, 2011  

Fat, broke, polluted, and more importantly... lamingtonless. Tragic :p

Meghan,  8:17 pm, February 01, 2011  

This is a cause that Gordon Ramsey took on in Season..3 I believe of The F Word. He called it "Getting Women back into the Kitchen" (awesome name).

The only thing that really stood out as a 'huh?' was the ability to drive a standard. Of course Boomers are more inclined to know how...a vast majority of cars on the road when they were of driving age were standards. Now, every car is equipped with automatic transmission-who cares if we know how to drive a stick? That's like saying more Boomers know how to use a typewriter than Gen Y.

Marsha,  11:20 pm, February 01, 2011  

Well, isn't there a bit of a problem with the survey group to begin with? It isn't Gen Y, but women under 30. There is a subtle difference. I'm technically a Gen X'er, and while my grandmother gave me a head start on some skills (the fun ones), I was too busy in my 20's with school and starting my career to devote more time to learning basic "homemaking" skills. And mom and granny neglected a bunch of stuff, mainly cuz they preferred to do things their way rather than "yield" kitchen space to me. I know those skills save time and money, and enhance my life, but I picked some of them up after 30 when I had the time to spend. In my opinion, you either learn homemaking/handy skills prior to finishing high school, or AFTER 30. Trying to pick them up in your 20's is expecting a lot- especially since you often don't have a close at hand mentor who's willing to teach.

And just to whine, I grew up with a baby boomer mother, and greatest generation grandparents. We had a shop in the basement, and a good kitchen (Chambers stoves are the best). I don't recall much attention being paid to teaching me how to use tools and the shop, or how to cook and keep house. Lots of territorial issues in my family! Same thing with the stick shift- learned it on my own when I bought a truck. Mom and granddaddy briefly tried to teach me in H.S., but became upset listening to me grind the gears on their cars. That lesson didn't last long either.

Older Australians have no one to blame but themselves if their offspring are lamingtonless :)

Anonymous,  7:57 am, February 02, 2011  

First things first. I wondered what the hell a Lamington was. Sounds like beef Wellington made with lamb. How wrong I was!

In my local school district they teach high schoolers (both genders) basic skills like cooking, taking care of a baby (with a take home faux infant)and budgeting. So, that's a plus. As well, my wife and I have taught other skills to our kids. Over the summer, when they have waaayyyy too much time on their hands, we have them do their own laundry, mow the lawn, take out the recycling & trash, vacuum, do dishes (yes, we have a dishwasher, Jen) and even things like clean the stove, the microwave, scrub the floors, etc. So, at least our kids are getting a basic education in home economics.

I know way too many college age kids who have no clue how to even keep their dorm room clean. Or maybe that's normal. :)

I was never taught any of these things growing up. It is only in the last 12 years (since I became self-employed) that I have invested myself into learning a lot of these skills. Now, I do all of the cooking and housekeeping for our family since I have more free time than my wife who went back to work full-time a few years ago. To be honest, I enjoy it a whole lot more than when I was Vice President of a million dollar upstate New York company.

Lastly, I never understood the division of "female" and "male" oriented chores. Why is a woman's place in the kitchen, but we have no problem with going to a restaurant where the food is prepared by a man? We're all just people, people!

Nancy 10:44 am, February 03, 2011  

Honey, that's not linoleum. It's kitchen carpet. I've been there, done that and it was a mess. Whoever thought carpeting in the kitchen and bath never had to clean it all the time or had children who spilled things.

It is sad that we now live in a throw away/processed crap society.

Marsha,  11:26 pm, February 03, 2011  

Kitchen carpet? YIKES! I've seen carpeting in the bathroom- what a tragedy, but it never occurred to me that someone would put it in the kitchen. Was this something that you did if you had a housekeeper and didn't care about how hard she had to work?

And if I buy a house with that in my kitchen, it will be tossed without ant guilt at all. Grease stains on carpet? *shudder

Jen 10:50 am, February 16, 2011  

Meant to reply earlier - but thanks for the great comments, everyone!

I also was quite thrown by the lamington. Who would have thought it was a cake-like thing?

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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