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What couple hasn’t quarreled over an improperly laid out machine or the dishes lying around? Spoilers: none. Toilets to scrub, a meal to cook, the mop to mop… So many thankless domestic tasks that are often carried out by women in heterosexual couples. Faced with this relentless observation, which always weighs down the mental load a little more, Spain is looking into a solution: a mobile application responsible for restoring the balance on household chores. Can this initiative work in France? Can these kinds of tools bridge the gap? Are there any biases? 20 minutes takes stock of the case with Alice Apostolyco-founder of the Institute of Gender in Geopolitics.
Can the app be available in France?
The concept of Spain, a pioneer in the treatment of gender inequalities, is simple. “It’s an application that will make it possible to count the time that everyone invests in domestic chores”, summarizes Angela Rodriguez, Spanish Secretary of State for Equality at the microphone of France Inter. Concretely, the application will work on the same model as Tricount, a program that allows expenses to be shared between several people.
The initiative is considered interesting by Alice Apostoly, but it does not appear to her as a miracle solution. “We need an ambitious political program to get closer to a fair sharing of tasks,” she argues. Because the gap to be filled is still deep in France. The INSEE “Time Use” survey has also calculated that “women spend 10h15 more than men on domestic chores”.
A tool capable of reducing gender inequality?
Nearly seven out of ten French people have already stopped talking to each other because of an argument related to household chores, according to a TaskRabbit and YouGov study (2021). Worse, 2% of respondents even say they have divorced because of it. Faced with this observation, “the value of this application will above all reside in the data that it will be able to highlight. This will be another good source of documentation, which can fuel the advocacy and awareness work that feminist movements are already doing,” predicts Alice Apostoly.
The figures illustrate the magnitude of the chasm to be bridged in order to achieve gender equality. In Spain, 45.9% of women surveyed say they take care of the majority of household chores in their homes, compared to only 14.9% of men, according to a study by the National Institute of Statistics. In France, “women perform two-thirds of the domestic tasks”, still according to INSEE. “It affects their career, their mental health, their daily life, their possibility of having hobbies and time to themselves”, recalls our specialist, who insists on one point: in a couple with a child, “the disparity of tasks s worsens drastically after the arrival of the first born. We need equivalent parental leave policies for both parents, better access to childcare, a reduction in working hours are concrete solutions, the education of children”.
Does the initiative have biases?
“We all know that person who says to us: ‘I’ll take care of tidying up the kitchen’. Except that tidying up the kitchen can take twenty minutes, but to be able to do it, someone else had to go and buy a sponge, a washing-up liquid. This mental burden almost always falls on women, so the polls say. At Angela Rodriguez, the observation is clear. For the Spanish politician, the men will have to play the game so as not to rout the device. “The impact of the device will depend on the good faith of the couples who use it, comments our expert. Many phenomena are documented, including strategic incompetence, or the lack of initiative (to get around daunting tasks). »
Another source of concern: who will be responsible for filling in the information on the application on a daily basis? Misused, the application could lead to an additional burden for the woman. A long-term solution: education, from an early age. “For example, women less often benefit from a room dedicated to work (25%, compared to 39% of men) at home. So it’s not the time spent at home, it’s not the workload, but cognitive biases and ingrained norms that explain this gap. There is a possibility for the man to prioritize his work, and an expectation for the woman to prioritize her home. »