Fathers who help with household chores are more likely to raise daughters who aspire to less-traditional, and potentially higher-paying, careers.
So finds a new study that suggests how parents share dishes, laundry and other domestic duties plays a key role in shaping the gender attitudes and aspirations of their children, especially daughters.
While mothers’ gender and work equality beliefs were key factors in predicting kids’ attitudes toward gender, the strongest predictor of daughters’ own professional ambitions was their fathers’ approach to household chores.
“This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents,” says lead author Alyssa Croft, a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Dept. of Psychology. “How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role.”
The study, which appeared in a 2014 issue of Psychological Science, suggests parents’ domestic actions may speak louder than words. Even when fathers publically endorsed gender equality, if they retained a traditional division of labour at home, their daughters were more likely to envision themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs, such as nurse, teacher, librarian or stay-at-home-mom.
“Despite our best efforts to create workplace equality, women remain severely under-represented in leadership and management positions,” says Croft. “This study is important because it suggests that achieving gender equality at home may be one way to inspire young women to set their sights on careers from which they have traditionally been excluded.”