Where would you most likely be at 5.30 AM? Hopefully sleeping. Not United States scientist Carol Greider. She’s an early riser. So when the Nobel committee called her at 5.30 AM to tell her she won the Nobel Medicine Prize, she was in the middle of doing laundry. That’s what she told Swedish public radio when they interviewed her. She was in the middle of fixing her children’s breakfast when they called. Wow, I thought. Working women are still doing it all. Then I realized, maybe not.
Greider, 48, is a molecular biology and genetics professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. She, along with two other researchers, won the Nobel Medicine Prize recently for identifying a key switch in cellular ageing. She usually exercises in the morning, but when the Nobel committee called she was folding laundry. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.
First, that she could admit that she was doing laundry is a big breakthrough. Why? Because it’s no big deal. It’s no longer a badge of dishonor to acknowledge that a woman does laundry. Face it. Whether you live alone or with someone, laundry, dishes and cleaning are facts of life. Someone has to do it. Women are no longer doing everything.
The data says I’m right. I saw some research and it seems that now men are pitching in with housework. In a recent study at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, they reported on housework hours. In 2005, women spent 17 hours a week on cleaning. Men did 13 hours. While not equal, men’s hours rose from six in 1976.
You know who does the least amount of housework? It’s single women in their 20s and 30s. They only do around 12 hours a week. Married women in their 60s and 70s did the most which was about 21 hours a week.
Men showed a somewhat different pattern, with older men cleaning up more often than younger men. Single guys worked the hardest around the house, trumping all age groups of married men. Does that surprise you? It did me. I thought single guys were like me when I was younger. I really didn’t care much about dust (it wasn’t hurting anyone). Cooking didn’t interest me either. It was just me so why bother?
So it sounds like women are finally telling the men in their lives to pitch in. That’s great. Women will be less tired for all aspects of their life. I know in my house, my husband and I have picked jobs based on what we like to do. Maybe Greider likes to do laundry. I picked the vacuuming and mopping jobs. It was an easy decision.
If you consider that I have a Roomba to vacuum and a Scooba to mop (thanks to a smart daughter who found them for me,) then as I’m writing this, I’m also vacuuming. It’s not that I love vacuuming. I love to have something do it for me. I recently read that Sandra Bullock loves to iron. Maybe she can come to my house to do mine. I got that job by default.