How Do Spouses’ Levels of Ambivalent Sexism Predict Allocations of Household Chores? Probing Why Women Still Perform Most of the Work in the U.S.


  • Katherine Gerst
  • Alan Reifman Orcid
  • Sylvia Niehuis
  • Dana Weiser


This study’s main objective was to examine whether, in a U.S. sample, ambivalent sexism would show stronger associations with heterosexual husbands and wives’ housework division (hours and proportion) than have previous gender-ideology measures. Unlike earlier conceptions of sexism emphasizing hostile and negative stereotypical views toward women, ambivalent sexism combines the two dimensions of hostile sexism and benevolent sexism (seemingly positive views and behaviors toward women that nevertheless convey underlying paternalistic and patronizing motivations). We hypothesized that male and female respondents high in both hostile and benevolent sexism would report the typical pattern of wives’ housework exceeding their husbands’, whereas those lower in hostile or benevolent sexism would report less housework being performed by wives. Married individuals (N = 249) were recruited via advertisements on’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform and announcements at a university to complete an online survey. Several variables were measured, including own and spouse’s housework hours, hostile and benevolent sexism, and demographic control variables previously associated with housework allocation. An interaction emerged for women, in which those high in benevolent, but low in hostile, sexism reported performing the highest proportion of housework, whereas those low in both forms of sexism performed the lowest proportion. These results provided full or partial support for different aspects of our hypotheses. Men reported greater housework (hours and proportion) the more hours their wife worked outside the house. Discussion examines implications for ambivalent sexism theory, housework sharing, and conceptions of sexism.