Dividing Domestic Work after the First Child: Is It Possible to Undo Gender?

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.2.03 (Tower One)
Carmen Botia-Morillas, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain
Marta Dominguez-Folgueras, Sciences Po, Paris, France
Teresa Jurado-Guerrero, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Madrid, Spain
Research on the domestic division of work has shown a pattern of traditionalization after the birth of the first child in all the countries that have been analysed. The explanation for this empirical regularity remains unclear, although women's resources, gender norms and expectations, and couples' negotiations seem to play an important role in the transition. What enables some couples to attain an equal sharing of housework, while others think it is unfair but do not manage to change it? What role do negotiation and conflict play in undoing gender? Does the arrival of the first child change housework divisions among equal-sharers?

The objective of this paper is to study undoing gender from a longitudinal perspective (two-waves-panel), using a qualitative methodology, for the Spanish case. We perform a qualitative analysis on semi-structured interviews gathered in 2011 (first interview), for 33 heterosexual couples with a non-traditional division of domestic work and expecting their first child, and follow them until 2013 (second interview). We identify three different ways into equal-sharing in the first wave, describe their workings and favouring factors. Then, we observe which couples continue equal-sharing in the second wave (more than one year after childbirth), whereas others traditionalize. We conclude that: first, there is no need to undertake an explicit negotiation about how to distribute domestic chores in order to share equally; second, in equal-sharing couples, resources (in a broad sense) and attitudes are combined in a non-hegemonic way; third, certain pre-child configurations that enabled equal-sharing before childbirth lead more easily to the persistence of undoing of gender after the birth of the first child.