Dads Who Do Housework May Spur Daughters to Aim High: Study

Promoting gender equality at home may foster ambition in girls, researchers say

FRIDAY, June 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Daughters may be more likely to have ambitious career goals if their fathers help with the dishes, laundry and other housework, a new study suggests.

"Despite our best efforts to create workplace equality, women remain severely underrepresented in leadership and management positions," study author Alyssa Croft, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of British Columbia's department of psychology, said in a journal news release. "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."

The study included 326 children, aged 7 to 13, and at least one of their parents. Both children and parents were more likely to link women with household chores and child care, and girls were much more likely than boys to say they want to be like adults who take care of children rather than adults with a career.

However, the researchers also found that the strongest predictor of daughters wanting to go into less traditional, potentially higher-paying careers was having fathers who helped with the housework, according to the study released online recently in the journal Psychological Science.

Even if fathers said they were in favor of gender equality but did not help out with household chores, their daughters were more likely to think about traditionally female positions such as stay-at-home mother, teacher, librarian or nurse.

"This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents," said Croft. "How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about parenting (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/parenting.html ).

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science, news release, May 28, 2014

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