Having a career in addition to raising a family and managing a household is a difficult task. On average, a household with children requires around 21 hours of unpaid labor every week to be maintained, though obviously this number fluctuates depending on a number of factors. This housework includes a range of activities, including:

• Preparing food

• Shopping for groceries

• Cleaning and maintaining the household

• Taking care of children


Historically, women have faced a pressure to set aside their careers so they can focus on the unpaid work needed to take care of a family and a household. This means that splitting up time between work and family is especially difficult for women. Despite the fact that more and more women have successful careers outside of the home, the burden of housework still disproportionately falls on women. Dr. Diamond noted how the expectation for women to do more of the caregiving in a household than their male counterparts has hindered progress in their careers.

“The number one obstacle for women in academia is that issue of how to kind of work out that balance. Especially because, you know, even my most progressive male-father friends just don't do as much caregiving as women do. That's just not equal."                                  -Dr. Lisa Diamond.

A recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that around half of women with full-time jobs do unpaid housework compared to only a fifth of men with full-time jobs. The division of labor is especially disproportionate when it comes to taking care of children and other members of their family. Women with full-time jobs spend twice as much time as men doing this type of work. In addition, even if tasks within a house are divided between men and women, the mental load of organizing and managing housework tends to fall more heavily on women. In order for this labor to be distributed more fairly, women need help from other members of their household when it comes to managing housework. While housework and childrearing can be shared with a spouse, there are many other people who can help, such as:

• Parents

• Older children

• Extended family members

• Community members

• Childcare services

• Domestic services


Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones mentioned how it was possible to pursue her career and raise her family because of the support she received.

"As a young member of a division, the senior members in my division- which was reproductive endocrinology- were incredibly supportive. (…) Luckily, I had lots of support at home for childcare. And I say it was being here in Utah (…) because in Utah we value families.”

       – Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones.

Dr. Jones not only sees value in help from her other household members, but in her community at large, too. Living in an environment that values families can greatly assist women in balancing their commitments to their careers and their families. Dr. Cynthia Burrows also discussed how she managed to pursue her career and take care of her children with the help of those around her, including her husband, her parents, and her parents-in-law.

“I think, well, one thing that was really good about having triplets was it was such a dramatic change that [Scott and I] knew we needed help. We knew both of us had to be really engaged. It was not like one of us was going to be the stay-at-home parent and the other one would have a career. We would get help and we did. So, (…) I had my parents live in the basement for a couple of months. We had Scott's parents for a couple of months.”

     – Dr. Cynthia Burrows.

Dr. Burrows also described her experience with childcare services that helped share some of the burden of childcare so she could devote more time to her career.

“When I called an agency to hire a nanny and they told me, you treat this person like a professional and you get professional help. (…) Yes, we got fantastic help. We had very devoted people. Finally, when they had some, you know, life change and, you know, moved away or did something else, then we'd have to move on to a new person, but they would always recruit the next nanny for us.”

      – Dr. Cynthia Burrows.


Page researched and written by Grace Hall.