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Worldwide, women cook twice as much as men: One country bucks the trend

Worldwide, women cook nearly 9 meals a week on average, while men cook only 4, according to a new survey.
Penpak Ngamsathain
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Worldwide, women cook nearly 9 meals a week on average, while men cook only 4, according to a new survey.

A new survey finds the gender gap in 'home cooking' has widened, with women cooking more meals than men in nearly every country worldwide.

Women cooked just under nine meals per week, on average, in 2022. Men cooked about four per week. These are the results of an annual survey by Gallup and Cookpad, which tracks how often people prepare and eat home-cooked meals in countries around the globe.

When the survey began in 2018, traditional gender roles were well established, but during the pandemic years the survey results showed that men were cooking more. This narrowed the gender gap, explains Andrew Dugan, a research director at Gallup, who has worked on the survey since it began. "Every year since the study started, the gap narrowed," he says. Until now.

The latest results, which Duggan says come as a surprise, point to a reversal of this trend. In 2022, women continued to cook at about the same frequency, but men started to cook less. On average, men cooked a little less than one fewer meal per week.

"It's the first year that the gap actually widened," Dugan says, pointing out that the gap has reverted back to its starting point in 2018. "What it might suggest is [that] the traditional gender roles are starting to reassert themselves," Dugan says.

The gender gap varies by country. In the United States, women cook about two more meals per week on average, than men. The survey report graphs the countries with the largest gender gaps, including Ethiopia, Tajikistan, Egypt, Nepal and Yemen, where women are making about eight more meals per week than men.

The countries with the smallest gender differences in cooking are clustered in Europe, including Spain, the UK, Switzerland, France, and Ireland. There's only one country where men actually cook more than women. Wait for it.....

Italy. "This is a surprise," Dugan says.

It's not clear why Italy bucked the trend, or why the gender gap widened in all the other countries including the U.S., but chef Mike Friedman, who operates several restaurants in the Washington D.C. area, has his take.

"I think woman can handle more on their plate," he says.

In the U.S., where women cook about two more meals per week than men, Friedman thinks the survey may not capture the whole picture. He says in his house, lots of meals are collaborations.

"I know in my own home my wife does a lot of the cooking. But we talk about it and we talk through 'what should we make tonight?' And a lot of times she'll start and I'll finish and then I'm always left with the dishes," Friedman says.

That got us thinking: How do you divide meal prep in your household and who does the lion's share? Are there any tensions in your household about who makes dinner, and how did you resolve them? Send us an e-mail, to Shots@npr.org

This story was edited by Jane Greenhalgh

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Allison Aubrey
Allison Aubrey is a Washington-based correspondent for NPR News, where her stories can be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She has reported extensively on the coronavirus pandemic since it began, providing near-daily coverage of new developments and effects. She's also a contributor to the PBS NewsHour and is one of the hosts of NPR's Life Kit.