Though the division of household tasks continues to become more equitable, women still spend an average of 2.6 hours a day on these activities versus two hours a day for men, according a 2016 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food preparation and cleanup represent roughly a third of that time, and it’s the category with the biggest discrepancy between men and women. While other household cleaning can be broken up over time, people have to eat multiple times a day, every day.
Preparing meals is time consuming, yet it also comes with a certain household celebrity — it’s a skill that people are proud to do well. “Dishes are a thankless job,” says Carlson. “It’s one of those things people resent having to do.” Unlike vacuuming, which is a task that addresses the combined mess of all members of a household, dishes are often dirtied by one person — and it’s easy to see who is the culprit. The shirker will pile them in the sink or take just one glass from the dishwasher, leaving the rest of the unloading for someone else.