Dad’s household contributions impact daughters’ careers


Stock Photo from Microsoft OfficeIn the May 28th edition of The Globe and Mail, Alyssa Croft, lead author of a new gender roles study from the Department of Psychology at UBC, presents findings from her study “The second shift reflected in the second generation: When fathers help out at home, daughters are less stereotypic”, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. The study finds that in homes where fathers share in domestic routines, there is a higher incidence of daughters aspiring to train for the higher-paying strata of professional careers, such as doctors or lawyers, whereas, in homes with no sign of equally divided chores, daughters are more likely to hold more stereotypical ambitions, such as homemakers, nurses, teachers and librarians.

“Croft points to the second shift, a phenomenon identified by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1989. As wives increasingly work full-time outside of the home, they continue clocking more hours on housework and childcare than their husbands; Hochschild argued that this double burden had stalled the gender revolution…..The current Canadian study examines how this gendered discrepancy in housework forms attitudes in children, especially daughters. To girls watching this dynamic play out in their own homes the message is, ‘You can do anything you want to do, but you have to do all this too,’ says Croft.”

“The data showed mothers doing disproportionately more around the house even when both parents worked full-time outside the home. Still, in homes where fathers pitched in even a little, daughters held broader career goals. Contrast that with fathers who were vocal in their support of gender equality but didn’t walk the talk, skipping out on the chores instead. In these families, daughters were more likely to see themselves as stay-at-home moms. In other words, children watch and learn.

“ ‘Our data suggests that kids might pick up their stereotypes about gender and about themselves not only from what parents say explicitly but from what they do around the house,’ says Croft. ‘The important part is just how much of an impact these behaviours seem to have over and above what parents are publicly endorsing.’ ”

This initial research indicates that equitable division of routine domestic chores helps to enhance girls’ willingness to contemplate adult career choices that are more involved and time consuming.

The study also found that, regardless of parental attitudes and behaviours, boys’ career aspirations are most likely to be stereotypical. “‘It may be that boys are receiving fewer messages about being able to do whatever they want,’ says Croft. ‘Maybe those stereotypes are even more rigid.’"