Italian men are more willing than in the past to tie on their apron strings but are still not doing enough.

According to Italian research institute Astra Ricerche (which conducted the survey for Procter and Gamble) men are moving away from traditional macho stereotypes and have started to lend a hand with household chores.

From the survey it emerged that Italian men are cheerfully stacking dishes in the dishwasher, with 37 per cent of males interviewed bragging that they perform this task better than the fairer sex. It appears that household technology may partly account for men's increased interest in housework. Whether this is because they are attracted to technology or because it makes the chore easier remains unclear.

The survey found that loading the dishwasher is the most popular male house chore but the washing machine remains an alien piece of technology for most Italian men.

While half the male interviewees described themselves as "competent" in carrying out their household chores; their spouses and girlfriends have different ideas: some 45 per cent of disgruntled female interviewees admitted that their uomini were willing but not very nimble with mops, brooms and dusting cloths, with 58 percent of women expressing dissatisfaction with their husband's performance.

This might account for the fact that the average woman in Rome and Milan spends five hours and 20 minutes a day doing housework.

On the whole, the study found that men living in the north have more emancipated views on sharing household responsibilities with their partners.

The survey concluded that Italian men still lag behind their European counterparts in helping their women around the house, however.