Does Gender Equality in Marriage Benefit Men, Too?

A mature couple working in the kitchen togetherOpponents of gender equality have long argued that both men and women lose something when the sexes are treated equally and share duties. The results of a research project that dates back to the 1970s, though, suggest that gender equality in marriage doesn’t harm couples, and may even benefit men’s careers.

Gender Equality and Work

Norwegian sociologist Erik Grønseth launched the Work-Sharing Couples Project in the 1970s. The study tracked 16 couples across two generations. All of the couples shared in household duties and had careers, with each member of the couple working part-time, spending the same amount of time at home, and equally participating in household tasks such as cleaning and child rearing.

Though the men in the project worked fewer hours than other men at work, they reported that they did not think the experiment was harmful to their job performance. In fact, the men reported that the skills they learned at home were valuable to them in the workplace. The men did not report being penalized for working part-time, instead emphasizing that their responsibilities at home qualified as management experience.

Norway is widely regarded as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. Men and women can share 49 weeks of state-protected parental leave, and even receive an “equality bonus” if they split the time equally. Thus these results may reveal as much about Norwegian work culture as they do about gender equality.

Gender Equality and Families

The benefits weren’t limited to the workplace, though. The couples reported that sharing household duties was good for their marriage and children. Interestingly, though, the couple’s sons did not follow in their father’s footsteps. The second generation of study participants lives in what the study’s authors call “neo-traditional” houses, where both partners work, but the woman performs more childcare and household duties. Margunn Bjørnholt, a sociologist who conducted follow-up research on the study, argues that social structures and norms can exert significant influence, even when sons see that gender equality benefited their own families.


Two-generation gender equality study shows career benefits for men. (2014, October 14). Retrieved from

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  • Career Father

    October 16th, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    What an exceedingly interesting article. Although I can’t agree with the study from my experience stateside. I can agree with it from the time I have spent in Europe. The corporate family values and work life balance issues seem to simply be less there than they are here.

  • hereinthesouth

    October 16th, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Really glad to finally see a study that I have been arguing with my husband about for years. All the successful men at his work are also the great family guys. My husband constantly works overtime and long hours. They never seem to acknowledge it and he gets passed over again and again for promotions. Maybe the lack of work life balance are causing this problem as it shows through in his work. I can’t wait to read this article with him when he gets home tonight.

  • Catie

    October 20th, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    Thank goodness for my open minded parents and spouse because I could never live with someone who demeaned me and who thought that me getting ahead would be detrimental for them!

    My husband fully supports the fact that I have a great job and that I make more money than what he does. he is okay with that because we are both being fulfilled in our career choices and I think that this kind of contentment spills over into what we then do at home.

    The kids are happy, we divide things up pretty equally at home, and I think that it is something that is beneficial to all of us. He would never expact me to stay home and play wifey, just as I would never expect him to sit and always be a couch potato! For us it works out pretty well to have that equal division of labor

  • Thomas

    October 22nd, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    I grew up in a home where my mom never sat down and waited on all of us pretty much hand and foot. It would have been easy for me to want this for myself but I have to say that I always felt pretty sorry for the way she was treated at home so I vowed to have a relationship that was different than what I saw growing up.
    there are still times when I can see my old beliefs creeping in but thankfully I have a great wife who will help me dispel those beliefs any time they come along lol!!

  • Allie

    October 26th, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    While I don’t look at it as that I have to “teach” my husband how to do some things., I think that he would admit that some things that we do at home have definitely helped him at work too. he and I work hard on communicating exactly what we think and we are also pretty good about dividing up tasks, and so you can’t tell me that working on these things together at home will leave you high and dry at work. On the contrary, I think that anything that you practice enough will become a part of who you are and I think that with these two things especially they can be good for you no matter what career field you are in.

  • Ted

    October 28th, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    if the work is being shared in an equitable way, then who can complain?

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