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A survey shows working mothers still shoulder majority of household chores
China Daily
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A survey shows working mothers still shoulder majority of household chores

As Mother's Day fell on May 12, a joint report by recruitment portal Zhaopin and the National School of Development at Peking University has shed light on the circumstances of working mothers in China.

A survey conducted over the first two months of this year showed that despite their professional success, working mothers still shoulder the majority of household chores, with 77.2 percent of them spending over two hours a day on housework — up from 67.5 percent from the same two-month period in 2023 and significantly higher than the 47 percent of working fathers spending two hours on chores each day, the report said.

However, only 16 percent of working fathers spent that much time on housework last year, with the survey indicating that a growing awareness of gender equality has encouraged working fathers to see chores at home as a shared responsibility.

Regarding income allocation, 54 percent of working mothers said they spent most of their income on child care. More mothers are also using their money to pay rent or mortgages — 38.7 percent reported doing so in January and February, up from 24.6 percent last year.

The proportion of working mothers spending on education and self-improvement dropped to 21.9 percent this year from 32.3 percent in the January-February period in 2023, according to the report, suggesting that the increase in critical expenses such as rent has squeezed out funds they could be using for career development.

Meanwhile, nearly three years after the implementation of China's third-child policy, only 3.1 percent of surveyed working mothers said this year that they plan to have a third child, lower than the 4.6 percent of working fathers.

However, the 3.1 percent figure is higher than the 2.6 percent of unmarried women and 0.5 percent of married women without children planning to have children this year.

When asked about factors influencing their fertility plans, the top concern among survey participants was the financial burden, with 48.6 percent of working mothers and 44.4 percent of working fathers highlighting it. Among working mothers, the second-highest concern was "fear of losing freedom and personal space", accounting for 35.1 percent, significantly higher than the 27.8 percent of working fathers with the same concern.

Working mothers were also confident about their personal development. The survey found that 23.3 percent of married women with children believed it was "likely" or "certain" that they would get promoted, higher than the 20.4 percent for unmarried women and 18.4 percent for married women without children.

"Compared to women without children, women with children boast greater advantages for career advancement in my line of work, due to their relatively older age, increased experience and greater family stability," said Li Kexin, 31, a nurse in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, who gave birth to her daughter in 2019.

"Our hospital is relatively humane, as it offers ample time for maternity leave, doesn't schedule night shifts during pregnancy and lactation periods, and supports their employees' further studies," Li said, adding that she plans to apply for an on-the-job postgraduate program that could help her achieve a promotion.

Still, some experts admit the gender equality gap remains wide.

"Society is becoming more supportive of gender equality and childbirth with more systems in place. However, there is still a long way to go to provide women with more opportunities," said Pang Shi, director of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science's department of employment and entrepreneurship.

China DailyGu Yetao

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