Fathers who believe in gender equality, and who actually practice it by sharing household chores, raise more ambitious daughters. This is according to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, Psychology Department. The study, which was submitted on March 2014, appeared in the journal of Psychological Science. The study’s focus is on the effect of parent’s gender roles in the formation of a child’s aspirations and development.
The Second Shift Phenomenon
In a traditional domestic setting, wives often end up with the burden of taking care of household chores and child-rearing, even though both work full time. This double burden, also identified as the second shift phenomenon, is a result of traditional gender roles set by society.
Unknown to most parents, the second shift phenomenon, has a great influence in the formation of their daughter’s ambition in life. Stereotyped or counter-stereotyped roles of parents seem to have a more significant effect on daughters compared to sons.
Domestic Duties and Career Goals
According to study author, Alyssa Croft, of the University of Columbia, Psychology Department, the way fathers perform their domestic duties directly influences their daughter’s career goals. Fathers who model gender equality at home, by doing their share of household work, help develop their daughters to aspire for careers that were previously set for men alone (e.g. doctor, engineer, scientist).
The team collected data on 326 children ages 7 to 13 years old, from December 2011 to August 2012. Their parents were also asked to participate in the said study. Sets of questions answerable by a scale of -100 to +100 were provided to both parents and children.
Among those questions included in the study involved identification with domestic and work-related duties. Parents’ identification with gender specific roles and their behaviors were analyzed. Children were also asked about their gender role beliefs and career aspirations.
According to the data collected, fathers who stereotyped themselves as more work-oriented rather than family oriented produced more stereotypical beliefs in both sons and daughters. Mothers who identify themselves more with family oriented responsibilities produced daughters who also identify themselves with gender stereotyped roles.
However, for those fathers who equally identify with both work and family oriented responsibilities, daughters were more likely to steer away from gender specific duties and career goals. In addition, children whose mother also identify with both work and family oriented responsibilities tend to broaden their horizons in terms of aspirations.
Parents, especially primary caregivers, have a direct and significant effect on sex role attitudes, social cognition and childhood development. The mere verbal conveyance of gender equality to children does not produce any effect at all. Children pattern their beliefs, not by what they hear from parents, but by how their parents act and do things.
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