Apparently if I want my daughters to be successful in life I need to scrub the floor more often. A study out of the University of British Columbia suggests that if I want my daughters to pursue a profession that is not stereotypically female that I should do more housework.
It seems that the actual study asked kids 7-13 how their perspectives on potential career directions were affected by parents’ distribution of household work. Aside from the fact that kids career aspirations at 7 – 13 are not necessarily predictors of actual careers pursued, I don’t think that my daughters’ future ambition and success will have much to do with whether I clean the toilet or do the laundry instead of my wife. It is true that I do the laundry in our house and that sometimes my daughters help me with this task. I also shovel the snow and do the gardening and generally fix stuff around the house and sometimes my girls help with with those things a well. I rather suspect that my encouragement of their math skills and teaching them how to use tools and build things will have more of an impact on whether they choose to become engineers as opposed to them watching me wash the dishes or scrub the floors.
I do what needs to be done (depending on energy levels) and I push them to do their part. If they make a mess then they need to get in the habit of cleaning it up. I want to instill a quality work ethic in them so that they know how to work to achieve goals because that will be a valuable skill regardless of whether they aspire to be engineers, stay-at-home mums, clerical workers nurses or architects.
The same study found that women taking on stereotypically male roles in the household had no similar impact. In my personal experience I think that is a false result. I was raised in a single parent household by my mother and she did all of the household chores. As we got old enough she taught us how to take on some of those tasks such as laundry and cooking which enabled me to survive when I moved out. Her example taught me I just needed to get the work done that needed doing. We didn’t live with my dad, but he also did all of the household chores at his place and the message of getting the work done that needed doing was reinforced when we visited him.
I don’t know what my daughters will grow up to be – frankly I’m not sure what my next career will be. Whatever it is, they will know how to do the dishes, pick up after themselves, cut the grass and do renovations in their own homes.
Does anyone seriously wear rubber gloves when they are cleaning the house?