boys doing household chores

School in Spain Teaches Boys How to Do Household Chores to Stop Gender Inequality

A school in Spain decided to combat gender inequality by educating their male students about the basics of household chores, and they went viral.  

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Housework is equally unloved by both men and women, and yet women do the bulk of it. According to the 8,500 heterosexual couples who were interviewed for the UK Household Longitudinal Study, women do about 16 hours of household chores weekly, as opposed to the men who do about six. [1] 

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In the 40s and 50s, women were expected to keep the house tidy and her husband wasn’t expected to help. His job was at the office, and a woman’s was at home. While gender inequality has improved over the decades, it’s still prevalent in modern times. Men help out more at home today than ever before, but the gender norms associated with it still remain. 

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Keep in mind, that the couples involved in this study both worked full-time. There was no excuse of ‘she’s home all day and has nothing to do’ that accompanied the mentality of the 50s. Still, the image of a man relaxing after a day at the office, while his wife is on her feet cooking and cleaning — an apron tied around her work clothes, so to speak — wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. After all, women are expected to take care of the kids, dishes, laundry, etc. This is why daughters are taught these skills while sons are excused from “womanly” chores. [2] 

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Fortunately, this viewpoint is changing and finally being challenged. 

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Read More: This Chart Shows You Which Chores Are Age-Appropriate For Your Kids

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Teaching Boys to do Household Chores 

The Colegio Montecastelo of Spain, an institute located in Vigo, a town close to North-Western Spain, designed a home economics class specifically for boys that involve teaching them about sewing, cleaning, ironing, and cooking. It also includes more stereotypical “boyish” chores like masonry, plumbing, carpentry, and electrician skills. The point is training the boys in “the science of operating domestic units, efficiently, comfortably, and sustainability.” 

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“It seemed very useful for our students to learn to perform these tasks so that, when they form a family, they are involved from the beginning and know that a house is a matter of two, it’s not a matter of the woman cleaning, doing the dishes, and ironing,” said Gabriel Bravo, the school’s coordinator. “This will allow them to become aware and learn to handle themselves at home.” 

What started as a cooking class expanded into a movement as it was received with applause and appreciation. The school has also gotten the parents involved and many dads have even offered to teach the students. The class is taught by volunteers from members of the teaching staff, school campus representatives, and now, the fathers. [3] 

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The students offered resistance when the class was first instituted, but that fell away when they discovered that housework is rather simple once you know the steps. 

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“For some it was the first time they had held an iron, it was fun and instructive at the same time, we are quite surprised and the parents are very happy,” said Bravo. 

Should Home Economics Be Taught to Boys in Every School? 

The beauty of institutionalized home economics is that it removes the stigma of housework being the woman’s job. It also helps boys understand that chores are necessary skills for anyone, no matter their gender. Training boys and girls in these tasks help them become responsible, well-rounded adults. 

“Sometimes we take for granted that kids know how to wash dishes,” says Susan Turgeson, president of the Association of Teacher Educators for family and consumer sciences. “I never thought I was going to have to explain, step by step, how to put the drain plugin, the amount of soap to be used.” [4] 

Today, it’s common for men and women to live on their own between leaving the nest and settling down with a partner. Knowing these skills can empower them to feel prepared for “the real world.” The responsibility for household chores isn’t dictated by gender; it’s required of any functioning adult. Feeling like you need someone else to take care of you — whether it’s food preparation, laundry, or home maintenance — can be crippling for a person. Knowing how to take care of yourself independently is empowering.  

Some men would help out but they were never taught how, nor were they told that housework is expected of them. Therefore, the brunt of the housework typically falls to the wife, who grew up believing the home and its function is a reflection of her abilities as a wife and mother. Thus, the cycle of gender equality of household chores continues. [5] 

Teaching young boys these skills can help develop them as well-functioning adults and capable partners and fathers.

  1. “Gender Divisions of Paid and Unpaid Work in Contemporary UK Couples.” Anne McMunn. Sage Journals. July 25, 2019 
  2. “Women Still Do Majority of Household Chores, Study Finds.” Sabrina Barr. Independent UK. July 26, 2019 
  3. “This Spanish college teaches boys to cook, clean and iron in a brilliant move to promote life skills and gender equality.” New Delhi. India Today. May 24, 2019. 
  4. “Despite A Revamped Focus On Real-Life Skills, ‘Home Ec’ Classes Fade Away.” Tove Danovich. NPR. June 14, 2018. 
  5. “Dirty secret: why is there still a housework gender gap?” Oliver Burkeman. The Guardian. February 17, 2018 

 

Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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