In 1985, Caroline Rosenthal coined the term “kinkeeping” to describe the invisible work women do that often goes without credit. It epitomizes the unpaid physical and emotional labor a woman endures, from doing housework to remembering the birthdays of relatives.
And it turns out that the word is still relevant today.
The phenomenon went viral on TikTok after the creator learned about immersing herself in gender studies classes and their women.
TikToker @employee He likened the concept to a theatrical production in which the backstage staff doing the work behind the scenes did not receive the same recognition or praise as the actors on stage.
The video has been viewed over 7 million times, and the hashtag #kinkeeping has become equally popular, with women sharing their own experiences taking on underappreciated roles.
In fact, the collective global experience of working from home may have made matchmaking worse for women.
Search Show that men are much better at working remotely than women. An Ohio State University study found that in husbands and wives, women are more likely to use their flexible schedules to do housework—and feel guilty if they don’t.
Meanwhile, A.J 2020 study led by Yale University It found that women who worked remotely with children were more likely to report symptoms of burnout and depression, including anxiety and loneliness, than parents who also worked from home.
How employers can support ‘kinkeepers’
Sadly but unsurprisingly, taking on the lion’s share of domestic responsibilities has a significant impact on a woman’s ability to excel and advance in her actual job.
Driving instructor Debbie Danone says she sees how much it bugs her clients “all the time” about being the protector of the family.
She said, “Some older women regularly talk to me about intrusive thoughts at work about children’s birthday parties, or feeling ashamed of failing to cohesively between work and home life.”
“And if it affects people’s mental health – it affects their performance, their commitment and their bandwidth.”
Despite their lack of pay, these turbulent daily tasks are essential to a functioning society.
“Women’s essential role in building society has historically been indisputable, but the modern economic measure of value excludes these more important tasks that largely fall to women,” asserts Dr. Anino Imam, founder and managing director of financial and strategy advisory firm Avandis.
First, she says, society and companies have a role to play in recognizing that these largely unpaid contributions that “fell into the informal space” add value.
“By organizations realizing this and taking action so that men can become equal contributors to caregiving, this will reduce the burden on women even if they are single parents,” she adds.
There are a myriad of actions companies can take to help ease the burden on women including normalizing paternity leave and understanding that flexible working hurts some, rather than assuming it’s a level playing field.
One simple action that people in positions of power can take today, however, is to start addressing this imbalance in their own homes.
Whatever your gender or sexual orientation, Danon says, take a good hard look at how you run your household and who does what.
“Realizing that we have benefited from the work of another unseen person can be uncomfortable. But honest conversations are the only way to dissipate resentment and enable work to be reallocated more equitably.”
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