-- Around the house, women rule. And men aren't putting up a fight about it, according to a study from the Pew Research Center that examines how gender and power play out at home and in the community.
Of 1,260 individuals surveyed this summer — either married or living together — women wield more decision-making power at home. In 43% of couples, women made more decisions — almost twice as many as men — in the four areas Pew surveyed: planning weekend activities, household finances, major home purchases and TV watching.
The survey also found 43% of men don't have the final say in any of those decisions; they either share decision-making or defer to their partners.
"Across all decision-making realms, it tilts to the woman," says Rich Morin, lead author of the study, being released today.
"I was surprised by the percentage of men who made none of the decisions in any of the areas. A significant percentage were just bystanders."
Such responses run counter to societal beliefs, says Melinda Forthofer, director of the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina-Columbia.
"Despite the fact that in our society, we have had this notion of males as heads of households, we have seen the pattern that women tend to really be the managers of the home."
And men don't seem to mind, she says: "When they're not in the workplace, they're content to follow their partner's lead."
As for household finances, the Pew study found that couples disagree on who has the greater say. About 45% of women surveyed said they manage the family's money; 37% of men said they manage it.
The survey didn't ask couples whether they shared decision-making, but 31% volunteered that they do.
"It's encouraging how many decisions couples are making together," says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, a non-partisan research organization.
Older couples are more likely than younger couples to make decisions together, the study found. More than a third of those 65 or older said they share decision-making in at least three of the four areas; in couples under 30, 42% said they don't share any of those decisions. Just 8% of couples overall said they make decisions together in all four areas.
"We'd all like to believe we're moving toward gender equality — not just in the workplace but in the home," Morin says. "There's evidence that men are doing more around the house these days, but when it comes to absolute equality in decision-making, it's the exception, not the rule, in the typical American couple."
READERS: Who makes the decisions in your home?