Nesting? It’s a biological myth reinforcing gender inequalities

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  • Scientists find no basis to the idea that women’s hormones drive them to nest

    We’ve all heard of the term ‘nesting’, which means preparing the home for the arrival of a newborn, but scientists now say it has nothing to do with female biology and hormones. In fact, they go as far as to say that the idea that women ‘nest’ in late pregnancy is just a myth to make them do more housework than men.

    This is a truly shocking revelation, as we’ve been led to believe women have a biological urge to tidy, clean and prepare the home for their baby, just like mice, rabbits and pigs prepare their nests to provide a safe environment for their litters.

    But Arianne Shahvisi, of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said humans had no hormonal drive to ‘nest’, so it was ‘worrying’ that women were ‘linked to housework through biology’ when it was simply a ‘rational tendency to prepare’.

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    Leah Ruppanner is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of The Policy Lab at the University of Melbourne, says,The challenge for women is that the gender revolution in housework that started in the 1970s has at best slowed and at worst stalled.’

    ‘Men have increased their housework contributions and men and women today are more egalitarian, expecting to share domestic and economic chores more equally now than in the past. But even though women have made major strides in the labour force, they still can’t get their partners to share most of the household chores.’

    ‘The reason: housework is drudgery. But someone has to do it to ensure the household functions. So, it gets dumped to those who have less power, have less time or are socialised into doing it.’

    ‘Nesting’ is ingrained in popular culture and reinforced by health-care professionals, but in fact has no scientific basis. Today, more women have a university education than ever before, surpassing men for the first time in history. More women are in paid work and hold more prestigious jobs than ever before. Yet they still shoulder the load when it comes to housework. This is an outdated idea and has to change.

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