Healthy Living

Gender Equality Is Taught By Example: Dads Who Help With Chores Have Daughters With High Aspirations

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Help your wife around the house if you want your daughter to have a higher-paying career. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Women who chose to follow less traditionally female and potentially higher-paying careers most likely had dads who weren’t afraid to help out in the kitchen. At least that’s the suggestion of a recent study, which found the greatest predictor of a young girl’s future aspirations was how equally her parents shared the household chores.

Most parents wouldn’t believe that something as simple as sharing dish duty or weekly laundry plays a key role in defining their daughter’s future salary. What it all boils down to is how the parents both teach and portray gender roles to their children.  

In a recent study, which will soon be published in Psychological Science, researchers found that a mother’s attitudes about gender roles influenced her children’s perception. It was found, however, that the father’s ability to show his view on gender equality by helping with household chores was far more influential on his daughter’s career aspirations. “Ours is one of the first studies to uncover this unique type of gatekeeping role that fathers might be playing in terms of their daughters career aspirations,” Alyssa Croft, a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology and lead author of the study, explained in a recent press release.

Croft and her team spoke with 326 children and at least one of their parents and asked questions on how both chores and paid labor were shared in the household. The researchers also determined the career sterotypes that the participants identified with, their gender and work attitudes, and the children’s career aspirations.

They found that in most households both parents and children were more likely to associate domestic work with women rather than men. The young girls in the study were also more likely than the boys to want to take care of children rather than have a career. This ties in with a study done last year, which found dads who took up the non-traditional care-giving roles were treated with less respect at work. Sadly, these results are a reflection on society’s shared view of gender roles. The most recent U.S. census reports on the gender pay divide found that roughly women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a white male earns, Forbes reported. This divide cannot be blamed entirely on pay inequality. The choices that women make, such as not continuing higher education and what career to follow, also influence their salary potentials.

The study suggests that merely talking about gender equality is not enough. Even though a father may openly support gender equality, leaving all the house chores to the mother teaches the daughter otherwise. “Despite our best efforts to create workplace equality, women remain severely under-represented in leadership and management positions,” Croft added. The “gatekeeper” role of the father has shown to be essential in breaking down the walls of gender inequality and perhaps a new way to reach the eventual goal of gender equality. 

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