As more women have joined the work force, the difference in employment rate between men and women has decreased, in Sweden as well as many other countries. Despite this, traditional gender patterns regarding, for example, responsibility for household duties still remain. Women are on sick leave more often than men, and previous studies have indicated that an unequal split of household responsibilities and perceived gender inequality could be associated with negative health outcomes.
The aim of the present study was to explore whether an unequal distribution of responsibilities in the home was related to various health related outcomes among women.
A sample consisting of 837 women living in a relationship, and working at least 50% of full time, responded to a questionnaire including information about division of responsibilities at home as well as various psychological and physiological health related outcomes.
The results showed that women living in relationships with perceived more unequal distribution of responsibility for house hold duties showed significantly higher levels of perceived stress, fatigue, physical/psychosomatic symptoms, and work family conflict compared with women living in more equal relationships. They also had significantly increased odds for insufficient time for various forms of recovery, which may further contribute to an increased risk of poor health.
Although an increasing employment rate among women is valuable for both society and individuals, it is important to work towards greater gender equality at home to maintain this development without it having a negative effect on women's health and well-being.