Dads, do the dishes. A father's role around the house can have a big impact on his daughters' career aspirations, a new study says.
The findings suggest that fathers who pitch in with chores like cleaning, cooking and laundry are more likely to raise daughters who want a less traditional, and possibly higher-paying, career.
“This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents,” study author Alyssa Croft, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology, said in a news release for Psychological Science. “How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role.”
The study, which will be published in the journal Psychological Science, gathered data from 326 children between ages 7 and 13 and at least one of their parents. Researchers calculated the division of time and labor for household chores between each subject’s parents and determined the career aspirations of the participants and how they viewed gender roles.
Mothers shouldered most of the household chores, which supports previous studies, the study says. Moms also had the most influence on what children perceived for gender roles. But dads' actions around the house were the biggest predictor of high career aspirations for girls. Even if the fathers told their daughters they could be anything they wanted, if a father didn’t help out around the house, the girls were more likely to aspire to be a stay-at-home mom, nurse or teacher, or something else in a female-dominated field.
“ ‘Talking the talk’ about equality is important, but our findings suggest that it is crucial that dads ‘walk the walk’ as well — because their daughters clearly are watching,” Croft said.
Adrian Kulp, a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer, told Today.com he was surprised the study said that mothers still do most of the housework.
"My wife works in a high-level executive capacity, while I maintain the kids' schedules, handle the housework and work a full-time writing job on the side," Kulp told Today.com. "And even when my wife comes home after working an 11-hour day, we still divide and conquer together."
Boys chose their career aspirations no matter which parent did the majority of housework in their house, Croft said, indicating they are less likely to be influenced by any gender roles.