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Dads who do chores ‘boost daughters’ ambitions’

Posted on: Saturday, May 31st, 2014

All parents want their children to do well in life and it turns out in some cases providing the right foundations could be as simple as picking up a dustpan and brush. 

Fathers who help with household chores are more likely to raise daughters with big aspirations, according to new research from the University of British Columbia. These young ladies aim for less traditional, potentially high-paying, careers.

The new study suggests how parents split washing-up after dinner, doing the laundry and other household chores can play a vital role in shaping the gender attitudes and life aspirations of their children, especially daughters.

Alyssa Croft, lead author of the research, said: “This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents. How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role.”

Although a mother’s gender and work equality beliefs were important in predicting a child’s attitude towards the sexes, the strongest predictor of a daughter's job aspirations were linked to their father’s attitude towards household chores.

The study demonstrated that even if men happily endorsed gender equality, daughters still imagined themselves in traditional female roles, such as a nurse, teacher, librarian or stay-at-home-mum, if conventional divisions of labour were practiced in the home.

Ms Croft added: “Despite our best efforts to create workplace equality, women remain severely under-represented in leadership and management positions.

“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.”

Over 320 children aged seven to 13 and at least one of their parents were involved in the research. Analysts then calculated the division of chores and employment in each household.

Mothers still shoulder the majority of the housework responsibilities compared to fathers, which is consistent with findings from previous studies. More children linked women to childcare and domestic work than men.