In one of my earliest jobs as a new college grad, I was the tea girl.
Anytime anyone came into the office, I was supposed to wait patiently for the right moment, then discretely ask them whether they’d like a tea or a coffee.
Then I’d slip away, prepare their drink, and stand discretely to one side until they noticed me and took the beverage.
I was bored stiff.
But I learned something I never forgot from that experience…
The role of women is to quietly and discretely serve the men, who can’t take a break from their VERY important work to do simple tasks like make their own drink.
Twenty years on, the world has changed.
The “office girl” has got a makeover. She’s now a personal assistant. Her boss is just as likely to be a woman as a man.
But one thing hasn’t changed:
As women, we still find ourselves doing the little jobs that make life easier for the men in our lives.
We bring them drinks. We do the cleaning up. We make sure the bed is made each morning.
Even if our men run the vacuum or make their own lunches, we still spend an hour more each day cleaning, cooking, and managing the home. 
It’s work no one else wants to do.
And it’s work intrinsic to our identity as women.
A man who makes an effort around the house is showered with praise.
A woman who makes an effort around the house isn’t doing enough.
Femininity and domesticity are cruelly entwined. As women, we are held account for the state of our homes. Pinterest has finished off what Martha Stewart began: none of us has any excuse for not being a domestic goddess.
In 1949, French feminist Simone de Beauvoir wrote:
Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition. The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”
It’s that repetition that’s become so unbearable.
We’re modern women. We expect better. We deserve creative, interesting, fulfilling work. Making lunches day after day doesn’t fit the bill.
Once upon a time, futurists predicted that machines would take over the drudgery of housework, leaving us free to enjoy ample leisure time.
Today, futurists are still predicting the same thing, because it hasn’t happened yet. As much as we love our washing machines and dishwashers and microwaves, they haven’t eliminated the need to fold clothes, put away dishes, and prep food.
For those of us who can’t afford to hire a maid, the obvious solution is to split the load. Divide the tasks among everyone who lives in your home—which includes the children.
John Hoxie tells a story about a friend who came to visit him. He interrupted their conversation to quickly wash some dishes. When he came back, his friend was perplexed.
“I’m glad you help your wife,” his friend said. “I do not help because, when I do, my wife does not praise me. Last week I washed the floor and no thanks.” 
Hoxie told his friend that he doesn’t help his wife, either.
He eats from those dishes, so it’s his job to wash them. He lives in their home, so it’s his job to clean it. He wears clothes, so it’s his job to wash them.
Hoxie’s story went viral, with nearly half a million shares.
It’s time for men to stop helping women around the house.
It’s time for partners to share in cooking the food they both eat, cleaning the home they both live in, and washing the towels they both use.
But the debate over housework remains drawn on gender lines.
Men have come up with a number of excuses to avoid housework. They work long hours, they’re tired at the end of the day, their partners do it better, and that old saw—it’s “women’s work.”
But what they DON’T say is something that may be equally at play:
They feel that housework makes them less of a man.
The only thing they’ll do is pick up a spatula and flip a pancake or fire up the grill, because cooking is perceived as a suitably manly challenge.
Study author Dan Cassino explains the thinking: “She might earn all the money, but I’m not going to do dishes.” 
The study found that the more a wife earns, the less her husband does around the house.
Some suggest that this is a natural consequence of breaking gender norms.
The more gender roles are flipped outside the home (by a bread-winning woman), the more pressure there is to behave conventionally inside the home.
Or, as Oliver Burkeman puts it:
Both sexes, subconsciously disturbed by their violation of traditional gender norms, start acting hyper-conventionally to compensate.” 
Which doesn’t bode well for powerful women who don’t have the energy or inclination to play domestic goddess.
These powerful women have also been told—by dating authorities, no less—how important it is for them to behave in a feminine way around their man.
“He wants to come home to a woman, not another man,” common wisdom goes. “Be a ball-buster at work, but make sure to wear the skirts at home.”
It’s a right mess…
But Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, has a counterintuitive suggestion.
“[I]f you marry a man, marry the right one,” she says. You want to marry a man who’ll support you in your career, because it’s impossible to devote 100% to your work life AND 100% to your home life. The math doesn’t add up.
Then she goes on to say, tongue-in-cheek:
If you can marry a woman, that’s better, because the split between two women in the home is pretty even, the data shows.”