Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

New research highlights the need to close the gender gap in unpaid work

Two new reports released today show that men need to take a greater role in unpaid and caring work to close the gender equality gap in Australia.

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, today released two research reports: the Men’s Engagement in Shared Care and Domestic Work and the Stocktake of Initiatives that Support Men to Engage in Caring and Unpaid Domestic Labour.

The University of Queensland, Social Research Centre’s report on Men’s Engagement found that men want to take on more of these responsibilities.

Ms Ellis said these studies have found that over a quarter of men want to do more of the domestic work, and almost one third of men want to do more parenting work.

“We have heard this anecdotally – but it is great to see that it is backed up in the research,” Ms Ellis said.

The University of Queensland, Social Centre report also found that the gender gap in time spent on childcare (9 hours per week) is more than twice the size of the gap in housework time (4 hours per week).

This imbalance in duties in the home is contributing to unequal outcomes for women over a lifetime.

Ms Ellis said the evidence is showing that if we can help families to share responsibilities around the home, they are more likely to share the benefits outside it.

“Over the past 20 years, we have focused on increasing women’s participation in paid employment, but we have not matched this with a decrease in unpaid work responsibilities for women.

“To do that, we need men to take on more of this important work.”

The Urbis Stocktake of Initiatives report highlights some of the strategies that employers can pursue which are effective to support the balancing of work and caring responsibilities.

Ms Ellis said paid parental leave, flexible work practices and quality child care have been shown to increase options for families when it comes to deciding how they will share child-rearing and housework

“The reports also show that there are wider benefits of sharing care between men and women,” Ms Ellis said.

“Sharing duties around the home is important for children too.

“Where fathers are involved in children’s care, the University of Queensland report tells us that they are ‘less likely to be anti-social, aggressive or delinquent, to get into trouble at school, to have emotional problems, or to have a negative self-image.’

“Importantly, the report also shows that sharing duties in the home also ‘promotes gender equality among children’ – which is encouraging for future generations.”

These reports contribute to the body of evidence which shows that government, business and community must work together to improve outcomes for both men and women.

Ms Ellis said helping people to manage work and family responsibilities in an equitable way, is the best path to ensuring that women and men are on equal footing both economically and socially.

“With Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme, unprecedented $20 billion investment in childcare quality and availability, and changes to the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Act to ensure that flexible work practices are more widely available to both men and women, this government is working hard to increase options for families.

“This government has also committed to reforming the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency to cover both women and men – and we are giving it a new name, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, to capture its new focus.

“The Agency will collect data that measures outcomes for both genders and take a particular focus on the uptake of flexible work practices.”

For more information about the Urbis report, please visit:

For more information about the University of Queensland report, please visit: