Facebook head Sheryl Sandberg has an idea about how working women can improve their work/life balance: Marry another woman. “The most important thing — and I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it a hundred times — if you marry a man, marry the right one,” Sandberg says in an interview with Makers. “If you can marry a woman, that’s better, because the split between two women in the home is actually pretty even, the data shows. But find someone to marry who’s going to to do half. Not just support your career by saying things: ‘Oh, of course you should work!’ But actually get up and change half the diapers.”
Her point is that women feel guilty for working all the time, so are more likely to help out at home. This is borne out by research: Women with full-time jobs spend about 50% more time doing housework than men who work full-time. In the same video series for Makers, a PBS and AOL initiative that highlights stories from prominent women, Sandberg spoke about how she used to feel guilty about leaving work at 5:30, but now she’s proud to speak out about it.
The idea that working women need a wife is not new. In the early 1970s, a woman named Judy Syfers wrote a now-classic essay called “Why I Want a Wife.” Published in the first issue of Ms. magazine, it made the same point as Sandberg did, only more forcefully.:
I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school, I want a wife to take care of my children. I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.
Sandberg hasn’t followed her own advice: She has two children with her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg. He’s probably great at changing diapers.