Men Still Dodge Household Chores in This Bastion of Sex Equality

(Bloomberg) -- The Nordic region is home to the world’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender equality, with more women employed, well educated and politically engaged than anywhere else.

Just not when it comes to housework.

A survey commissioned by the Danish Employers’ Association for the Financial Sector found that women routinely spend far more time each week than their male partners on tasks like washing clothes, vacuuming and mopping, buying groceries and making dinner. In fact, a third of women surveyed estimate they spend 20 hours more each week than their partners on household chores.

Julie Galbo, chief risk officer at Nordea Bank AB, says 20 hours sounds about right, based on her experience. But there are some signs of improvement. She says younger women seem to have found a fairer way of balancing household responsibilities, at least until they become mothers.

At Nordea, the biggest Nordic bank, management does what it can to help women targeting senior roles “understand that they can have a career” even if they have kids, Galbo said.

To make ends meet, women often end up compensating for the extra housework by cutting back on hours spent in paid work. Almost a quarter of the women employed in the finance industry work part-time, compared with just 8 percent of men, according to the Copenhagen-based association.

The division of labor means that fewer women are able to put in the kind of hours that lead to management positions, Mariane Dissing, the association’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Quotas won’t help, she says. “Unless politicians want to get involved in who does the washing up.”

Galbo at Nordea says quotas are a “very complex tool,” not least because women don’t like the feeling that they only got hired because of a mandatory system. Government policies supporting measures such as paternity leave or providing childcare services are more helpful, she said.

“That kind of help makes a big difference if both parents want to have a career,” she said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.