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GENDER ROLES HAVE CHANGED LITTLE ON THE HOME FRONT

SHARE GENDER ROLES HAVE CHANGED LITTLE ON THE HOME FRONT

Women have made amazing strides toward equality in the workplace, in politics and in social organizations. But one of the last places to recast gender roles is the home.

A majority of heterosexual couples say the woman is the one who does the laundry and plans dinner almost all the time, according to results of the 1994 General Social Survey, published in the new book "The Official Guide to American Attitudes" (New Strategist Publications, $89.95).And women are still overwhelmingly likely to handle the grocery shopping and care for sick family members. Their only chance at a break is if a husband volunteers to share the work - just 6 percent of husbands almost always plan dinner and just 7 percent usually handle the groceries.

But women are also not taking on the traditionally male tasks. In only 5 percent of households do women usually or always handle repairs, compared with the 67 percent in which men almost always take on these jobs.

There are some interesting differences of opinion among men and women, though, about how much of the household chores they handle, notes Susan Mitchell, author of the new book.

"One-quarter of women say household repairs are handled equally by the man and the woman. Only 15 percent of men agree," Mitchell wrote. "Forty-two percent of men, but only 34 percent of women, say they share dinner planning."

Black couples are significantly more likely than white couples to share household chores, Mitchell found.

Grocery shopping is shared in a majority (59 percent) of black households, compared with 40 percent of white households. Fifty-five percent of blacks say the woman always does the laundry, compared with 68 percent of whites.

And blacks are about 10 percentage points more likely than whites to say household repairs are shared, the statistics show.

There is a good chance that household chores will be more equally shared in the future. Young couples are considerably more likely to share home duties than are older Americans.

The General Social Survey, which includes 3,000 households interviewed in person, is conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. The margin of error varies from 2 to 4.5 percentage points, depending on the number of respondents to each question.