Young and Willmott: There
Has Been a March of Progress
Towards Gender Equality
1 Family life is gradually improving for all its members with
division of labour becoming more equal and democratic.
2 For example, in the early industrial family during the
19th century conjugal roles were segregated with a
clear cut division of labour. Women would spend their
leisure time with their female kin and neighbours,
whilst men would go to the pub with their workmates.
2.1 However, in the modern symmetrical family, conjugal roles are
joint with women in employment and men helping with domestic
work and childcare. Couples now spend leisure time together.
3 This is a result of major social changes such as changes in the
position of women. More women now work, and this contributed to
the march of progress because women are no longer financially
dependent on men or restricted to the clear cut domestic role.
4 Criticism: Edgall studied 38 couples to test their
theory. None of the couples were symmetrical, as none
of the couples had joint conjugal roles in housework.
Though, 45% had joint conjugal roles in childcare.