More proof we should be looking to the home, not just the office, to close the gender gap at work

A study from the University of British Columbia shows a direct effect between the amount of housework fathers do at home and their daughters’ career aspirations, suggesting a more balanced division of household labor among parents might promote greater workforce equality in the future. This effort makes a significant contirbution to close the gender gap in the workplace.

close the gender gap

An equal distribution of household labor is the key

Researchers found that when fathers perform a more equal distribution of household labor, their daughters express a greater interest in both working outside the home and in a broader array of occupations. Mom’s behavior matters too. Girls also expressed more interest in careers outside the home when their mothers reported doing less domestic work and identified as being work-oriented. Interestingly, boys’ career choices aren’t impacted by Dad’s domestic duties.

The researchers point out in their report titled, “The Second Shift Reflected in the Second Generation: Do Parents’ Gender Roles at Home Predict Children’s Aspirations?” that, “Efforts to model women’s success at work might have limited effectiveness in changing young girls’ aspirations if they still observe and come to assume inequality at home.”

Read: Why women suffer from gender burnout

Is household labor based on gender or working status?

gender gap

And in most households, girls probably do observe an unequal division of labor, one that is based on gender, not working status. Women spend approximately 30 percent more time on housework and childcare than men do. Research published in The Journal of Human Resources indicates housework has a direct and negative correlation to women’s wages. One theory for this could be employer’s negative reactions to women who appear dedicated to household activities.

Read: How to avoid the chore war

Corporate efforts like mentorship programs and leadership training matter. But if we really want women to lean in at work, we need to give them support at home too.

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Liz O'Donnell Contributor
Liz is of the best seller Mogul, Wife, Maid The Balancing Act of Modern Women. She is a recognized expert on balancing eldercare and career. She is featured regularly on TV and in the press.
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