His tribute to Eva Mendes was a nod to the under-appreciated work women do on a daily basis.

By Claire Zillman
January 9, 2017

Actor Ryan Gosling was responsible for one of the more touching moments of Sunday’s Golden Globe awards. In his acceptance speech for best actor in a comedy or musical, Gosling gave a heartfelt tribute to his partner, actress Eva Mendes, for the work she did at home while he filmed the La La Land role that earned him the honor.

“While I was singing and dancing and playing piano and having one of the best experiences I ever had on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second, and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer,” he said. “If she hadn’t have taken all that on so that I could have this experience, there would surely be someone else up here other than me today. So sweetheart, thank you.”

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His remarks were immediately deemed #relationshipgoals on social media. But the sentiment in his speech should also be #societygoals, in that it acknowledges the unpaid, under-appreciated work—caring for children, ill relatives, or aging parents—that many women take on in addition to their professional jobs. Their work in that regard often frees up their husbands or partners to put in more hours at the office, as Gosling noted.

Globally, women spend an average of 4.5 hours daily on unpaid work—on child care, grocery shopping, and doing the laundry. That’s more than double the time men spend, according to OECD data. In the U.S., women spend four hours on unpaid work daily; men contribute about 2.6 hours to it.

Unpaid work can no doubt be incredibly rewarding, but the time it eats up for women can be detrimental to their livelihoods. When women shrink their unpaid workload from five hours a day to three, their labor force participation increases 20%, according to the OECD.

Philanthropist Melinda Gates considers the unpaid work gap a “root inequality” and said last year that the Gates Foundation would work to close it. Technology and contraception can help alleviate this women’s burden, but the evolution of cultural norms is just as important.

“We need to call work what it is—work—whether you do it at home or whether you do it out in the labor force, and then give men and women options to choose what they want to do,” Gates told The New York Times in February.

At least one Hollywood star was listening.

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