Meaning and measurement: Reconceptualizing measures of the division of household labor

Joan E. Twiggs, Julia McQuillan, Myra Marx Ferree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations


This article argues that task-specific measures of the division of household labor form a gender hierarchy that reflects dimensions of meaning in the organization of household work. We contrast these measures to the commonly used time-share and Likert scale measures, which assume all tasks are interchangeable. Using Guttman scaling, we test the unidimensionality of this task hierarchy. Using odds ratios, we measure relationships between specific tasks, and using logistic regression, we see differences in correlates of husbands' participation by task and interrelationships among tasks that persist, controlling for gender ideology and socioeconomic factors. This work should encourage development of measures of change in the segregation of household tasks by gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-724
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999



  • Couples
  • Division of household labor
  • Domestic labor
  • Gender theory
  • Husbands
  • Measuring housework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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