Stigma and Gender Bias
By: Kevin John Reynolds
“It seems very clear to me that the marginalization of house cleaners starts with the continued disrespect and marginalization of women as a whole. When I helped my wife, Grace, move from Pittsburgh, PA to Walla Walla, WA and get her cleaning service going, I was amazed by the amount of rejection we experienced in regards to her already established rates in Pittsburgh. People laughed at us most of the time at first and we had to work for often times half of minimum wage, in order to get our “foot in the door”.
I also noticed a stigma to the fact that I was doing the “cleaning”with Grace and later on working with technicians. Even close friends would poke-fun and ridicule my decision to be such an intimate part of the work she did and/or tell me how “humble” it was for me to “take on” this position with the “credentials” I have. This got me thinking... If I’m ridiculed and labeled “humbled”, where is this attitude with my amazing wife? Where is their mention of her “humility” or her “credentials”? This makes me think the general population expect women to take on this work because they are already seen as lower and always have been, and it’s even more disturbing, how “unsurprising” it was to see this widespread attitude...
Who cleans houses? 90+ percent of the time? Women. In a world where male predominant trades— like plumbers, electricians, general laborers, and custodians— all have unions or a VOICE— I wondered why there is no voice for house cleaners and the women who work so hard and with so much unrecognized skill every day to serve our communities.
Why would you pay a wage for a professional house cleaner if you don’t think or see them as a skilled professional?
The truth is that professional house cleaning is a SKILLED PROFESSION! These women and men identify and clean hundreds of different surfaces in each home and require the skill to clean in a way that produces order, and healthier environments and a deep sense of peace.
Here is my final conclusion on this — Back in the “good ole days” when most women stayed home and took care of the kids and the home— how often were housewives appreciated by their husbands and children... let alone the rest of the world??
Not too long ago, house cleaning was considered only a “woman’s work”, and because of this it seems most of the world has adopted this attitude that it is “unskilled work” that anyone can do— it’s just the “wife’s work” and now ever so discreetly, the ongoing war against women continues,
and most specifically of a skill that through this continued cultural evolution, is still most often expected to be done by women and continues to be seen as a woman’s work that is regarded still as “unimportant” and “unintelligent” - i.e. the AMELIA BEDELIA series that is still so popular today.
Our mission is to raise awareness, respect, and recognition of what women have been taking on as “their” work which has been so disregarded and merely expected to “get done”.
Here’s the good news..Times are changing.
The US Department of Commerce predicts that within the next couple years— 8/10 dual income households will employ a house cleaning service. With so many women now equally working in the work force and nobody home full time to maintain a healthy environment for the family, the necessity of professional house cleaning is becoming more necessary and important.
By journeying together in our Cleaning Community, we continue to strengthen the mission Grace, Sheryl, and I started almost a year ago. We will continue to move forward, working hard behind the scenes to increase the appreciation professional house cleaners deserve.
I am so proud of Grace and I always have been. She was incredible on stage speaking at Facebook Headquarters on Friday at the Facebook Communities Summit #FCS2019! She spoke about our house cleaning community, our movement, and how we use the Facebook family of apps platform to connect our industry as cleaners."