Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Women Stuck with Office Housework

From Joan Williams (Hastings), in WaPo, Sticking Women with Office Housework.

She recounted a conversation she once had with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who told her that as a Harvard Law School professor, there were too many years she had ended up “holding the mop” for her male colleagues. In her early days of teaching, Warren said she took on too many bad teaching shifts because all the men had said no to working those hours.“There’s a fine line,” Brzezinski warned, “between paying your dues and knowing when to say no.”


Whether it’s called the second shift or the double burden, research has long shown that the unpaid housework women are traditionally expected to do at home can hold them back in their careers, leaving them with fewer hours to devote to their jobs or to their own well-being.


But housework isn’t just something women are expected to do at home. In interview after interview with professional women for my recent book, "What Works for Women at Work," I heard stories about what I call office housework: the administrative tasks, menial jobs and undervalued assignments women are disproportionately given at their jobs. They were expected to plan parties, order food, take notes in meetings and join thankless committees at far greater rates than their male peers were.

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