from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
New England Housewife (1940)

A housewife is a woman who primarily devotes herself to housework and family work and usually does no or only minimal wage work . The term househusband is used accordingly for a man in a similar activity .

The terms full-time housewife or housewife only are also used. With reference to the GDR one sometimes speaks of the "also housewife". When a mother in the GDR decided to stay at home all day, this was sometimes because of a conscious, but socially underestimated decision to “withdraw her own children from the state upbringing and / or from socialization within the profession”.

A common role term in this context is housewife and mother . The term stay-at-home-mom is also common in American English ; in French one says femme au foyer or femme ménagère .

Historical development

The housewife , oil painting by Abraham van Strij (1800–11)

The older term Hausmann (see also home cooking ) comes from the 16th century and comes from the Middle High German hūsman , "host, housewife, tenant, burgwart". In the 16th to 18th centuries, the fathers' literature , the forerunner of modern cookbooks, only addressed the pater familias , the male heads of larger rural households. In the 19th century, the technical equipment of households increased massively, as did the associated household literature, and housekeeping was also increasingly taught in courses such as the so-called winter schools and in-house training courses. Women - in the role of the experienced housewife and increasingly also the younger, still inexperienced housewife - were thus perceived more independently and also addressed in the rapidly growing advisory literature. The associated new role of the housewife as head of the household on larger estates or (also external) senior house clerk was a job propagated by the middle-class women's movement . The increased need for external training and expertise was reflected in the expansion of (higher and professional) women's education. Among other things, Ida of Kortzfleisch s Reifensteiner schools succeeded in Germany to establish a previously existing higher education for young women and to establish wider society. It was only later that the relevant educational system - such as the role of the housewife under the motto Where housewives are made under again emancipatory auspices - was viewed rather negatively.

The traditional bourgeois family model was thus established. This differentiates between a "male" world outside the home and a "female" world at home. The “housewife and mother” is the necessary female counterpart to the male, now primarily financial “ provider ”. Until the 1960s, the role of the housewife and mother was regarded as the “natural profession of women” in Germany in accordance with the model of family policy . In the introduction to the Equal Rights Act of 1957, it was said: "It is one of the functions of the man that he is fundamentally the sustainer and breadwinner of the family , while the woman must regard it as her most important task to be the heart of the family." In order to be employed, a wife required her husband's permission in Germany until 1977, in Austria until 1975 (see: Reforms of the 1960s and 1970s ).

To the extent that in the industrialized countries of the western world this family model gives way to egalitarian concepts and the compatibility of family and work becomes an achievable way of life for women - and increasingly also for men - the concept of housewife and mother loses much of its earlier concept A matter of course. The increasing employment of women is a phenomenon that can be observed in all rich western countries. Today, the role of housewife and mother is often just one of the many options women can choose between. In the Scandinavian countries and France , a larger proportion of women are employed than in the German-speaking countries.

In 1971 housewives accounted for 55% of the total number of women up to 65 years of age. Since then the number has decreased, in 2001 it was only 36% and in 2011 it was only 28%. Full-time housewives spend an average of 810 minutes (13.5 hours) a day doing housework. On average, women spend 164 minutes doing household chores, men 90 minutes. A survey in 2016 found that only 14% of women were most comfortable with the role of housewife and mother, 59% as part-time mothers and 18% as full-time mothers.

Statistical data

Development over time of the proportion of economically inactive women and mothers aged 18 to 65 in Germany

Proportion of inactive mothers in different countries:

country youngest child <6 youngest child 6–17 comment
DenmarkDenmark Denmark 26%
GermanyGermany Germany 47.1%
FranceFrance France 41%
United StatesUnited States United States 37.2% 22.1% Women with children under one year of age: 46% (as of 2003)

United States

In the United States , the dissatisfaction of women with college education, who in the 1950s was encouraged to seek personal fulfillment solely in the roles of housewife and mother - what Betty Friedan called "the nameless problem" - one of the starting points for the second wave of the women's movement .

Today, since even the majority of mothers of babies are employed, not only the image of the stay-at-home-mom is perceived as problematic in the USA , but above all the fact that the woman's lack of work also means that there is no income.


In Japan , the role of women as housewives and mothers is of great importance, and the worlds of men and women are very different. The mothers are responsible for the school success of their own children in the highly selective school system of Japan .

See also


General literature:

Social science literature

  • Angela Barron McBride: The normal crazy existence as a housewife and mother. Liberation from the mother ideology . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1982, ISBN 3-499-16962-2 .
  • Rosemarie Nave-Herz: Women between tradition and modernity (= theory and practice of women's studies. 18). Kleine Verlag, Bielefeld 2000, ISBN 3-89370-156-7 .
  • Beate Wimmer-Puchinger , Barbara Fuchs: Housewife and mother - role and reality. Normative attitudes and expectations of women and men . Chamber f. Workers u. Employee f. Vienna, 1998, ISBN 3-7063-0139-3 .

Stereotype research

  • Lothar Ulsamer, Cordula Ulsamer, Wilhelm Hahn: Defamed as a fool at the stove. The housewife and mother. The “ Bunte ” chews the “ star ” theses of the 1970s again (= perspectives. 30). Ulsamer Verlag, Esslingen 1985, ISBN 3-922241-17-4 .

Inventory for Switzerland (and Sweden)


  • L'aggettivo donna , Annabella Misuglio, Italy 1971, documentary film - Critique of the Patriarchate in Italy. L'aggettivo donna analyzes the double exploitation of women workers, the isolation of housewives and the training of children locked up in schools and separated from other people.

Web links

Wiktionary: Housewife  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Housewife  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christine von Oertzen: Part-time work and the desire to earn additional money: Gender politics and social change in West Germany 1948–1969. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999, ISBN 3-525-35795-8 . P.117 .
  2. ^ Hartmut Häussermann, Walter Siebel, Jens Wurtzbacher: Urban sociology: An introduction. Campus-Verlag 2004, ISBN 3-593-37497-8 . 203. .
  3. Gunilla-Friederike Budde : Women of the Intelligence: Academics in the GDR 1945 to 1975 , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003, ISBN 3-525-35143-7 . P. 311.
  4. Babett Bauer: Control and Repression: Individual Experiences in the GDR, 1971–1989: historical study and methodological contribution to oral history. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006, ISBN 3-525-36907-7 p. 130.
  5. Mother and motherhood: Change and effectiveness of a fantasy ... edited by Irmgard Roebling, Wolfram Mauser
  6. a b Hans Jürgen Teuteberg, «From housemother to housewife. Kitchen work in the 18th / 19th century in contemporary housekeeping literature », in: Hans Jürgen Teuteberg (Ed.) The revolution at the dining table: new studies on food culture in the 19th – 20th centuries. Century, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004, a. a. Pp. 116-119
  7. ^ Johannes Kramer: The rural domestic education system in Germany, dissertation at the University of Erlangen, Fulda 1913
  8. Ortrud Wörner-Heil: Noble women as pioneers of vocational training: rural housekeeping and the Reifensteiner Verband Kassel university press GmbH, 2010
  9. Britta Oehlke, Where housewives are made ... Northwest German household schools and their influences and effects from the late 19th to the middle of the 20th century. Dortmund: Wulff (2004), Univ., Diss., 2003. Münster (Westphalia).
  10. Christiane Kuller: Family Policy in the Federal Welfare State: The Formation of a Political Field in the Federal Republic 1945-1975. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2004, ISBN 3-486-56825-6 . P. 76.
  11. Claudia Pinl: Ancient, but still vigorous: the German breadwinner. In: From Politics and Contemporary History (B 44/2003). Federal Agency for Civic Education, accessed on May 21, 2008 .
  12. What if housewife was a paid job? Retrieved January 24, 2017 .
  13. Number for April 2001. From: Statistical Yearbook 2002 for the Federal Republic of Germany. Federal Statistical Office, Metzuler-Poeschel, Stuttgart, Section 6.6 (Employment), p. 106.
  14. Figures for 1999 in: House Ways and Means Committee Prints: 106-14, 2000 Green Book ( Memento of February 17, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Section 9. Child Care (PDF; 327 kB), p. 576. Excerpts: Child Care ( Memento of May 11, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  15. ^ US Department of Health and Human Services, Child Health USA 2004 ( Memento of August 20, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). Rockville, Maryland.
  16. Betty Friedan: The femininity delusion or the self-liberation of women: An emancipation concept. Rowohlt, 1970, ISBN 3-499-16721-2 , pp. 17ff.
  17. The myth of the stay-at-home mom: Many can't or won't leave jobs ; What is Mom worth? Working Mom vs. Stay-at-Home-Mom salaries ( Memento from March 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ); The real price of stay-at-home mom ( Memento from October 14, 2008 in the Internet Archive )