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Dads who do dishes have more ambitious daughters
June 26, 2014 8:50 AM   Subscribe

A new study suggests that dads who equally divide household chores with their wives tend to have daughters whose career aspirations are less gender-stereotypical. The study results suggest that even when fathers publicly endorse gender equality, when there is a traditional division of labor at home daughters are more likely to see themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs.
posted by rcraniac (67 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
What about dads that only use paper plates?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:52 AM on June 26 [11 favorites]


Any word on how single parent or same sex parent households stack up on this metric?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:55 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Dads who do dishes make daughters ambitious?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:57 AM on June 26 [59 favorites]


What about dads who pay for a maid?
posted by signal at 8:58 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


Or dads who do all the damned dishes and cooking and garbage and everything except folding laundry, always? Not bitter.
posted by Hoopo at 8:58 AM on June 26 [23 favorites]


How does it effect boys when dads do "traditional" female jobs? Just asking since they only looked at girls.
posted by stbalbach at 8:59 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


From the comments on the article above:
cause does NOT equal effect. One obvious explanation for this not-very-surprising "finding" is that men do more housework if their wives work outside the home. And if moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to follow that pattern, or to be encouraged by the parents to follow that pattern.

posted by ColdChef at 9:02 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


Dads who do dishes make daughters ambitious?

Dads who show their daughters by example that household chores don't have to be divvied up into 'male' and 'female' tasks, can help them reach beyond traditional gender expectations.
posted by qi at 9:03 AM on June 26 [11 favorites]


The study doesn't only look at girls. It looks at boys and girls - it found that "Fathers’ implicit gender role associations also uniquely predicted daughters’ (but not sons’) occupational preferences"
posted by rcraniac at 9:10 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


qi, that doesn't rhyme.
posted by desjardins at 9:10 AM on June 26 [36 favorites]


ColdChef: One obvious explanation for this not-very-surprising "finding" is that men do more housework if their wives work outside the home. And if moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to follow that pattern, or to be encouraged by the parents to follow that pattern.

They didn't really have enough pairs of parents to properly evaluate this but it is mentioned in the article:

For example, dads who engage in more household work may be married to women who work more outside the home or who endorse more counter-stereotypical beliefs about gender roles. Although we were unable to collect enough data from both parents to properly examine these possibilities, analysis of the subsample of 68 parent dyads in our dataset, revealed only modest covariation among gender role variables (see supplementary online materials) and mothers’ variables did not strongly predict daughters’ occupational aspirations. While future research is surely needed, these aspects of our data speak against the possibility that the findings among our father sample are better explained by the beliefs or behaviors of their wives.
posted by BigYesh 2 at 9:13 AM on June 26 [8 favorites]


Note: Study was of 326 kids who signed up at a science center. "Domestic Labor" was defined as housework and childcare and did not include traditionally "male" household work.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:25 AM on June 26


Or dads who do all the damned dishes and cooking and garbage and everything except folding laundry, always?

I'm not a dad, but I do all of the cooking, shopping, garbage, and household DIY and repairs, along with most of the dishes, and I'd still bet my partner puts in significantly more time on household stuff on any given week. I'm not saying that this is how it works out in anyone else's household, just that it is possible to do a fairly long list of stuff and still not do the majority.

I have always figured that whatever arrangements a couple wants to make is their own business as long as they are happy, so it's interesting to read that there can be other implications.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:26 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


cause does NOT equal effect. One obvious explanation for this not-very-surprising "finding" is that men do more housework if their wives work outside the home. And if moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to follow that pattern, or to be encouraged by the parents to follow that pattern.


Man this is like the trifecta of a bad comment on a social science article!

Lets see what we got:

1) Correlation != causation (as if that's novel)

2) SCTO! 'i already new this and these stupid scientists spent all this time when they just could have asked me! social science should always produce SUPRISING findings amirite?'

3) Not actually reading the article, where they address the hypothetical alternate explanation

(missing of course is, 'N TOO SMALL!')
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:27 AM on June 26 [18 favorites]


The other day, as I was getting my 3-year-old son into the car to take him to preschool, I handed him a toy car that had suffered an axle break the week before, causing the front wheels to fall off. I had fixed it, and I told him so. He said, "You didn't fix it, daddy did!" I was like, no, I fixed it, why would he think daddy did? "Daddies fix things. Mommies don't fix things." Whoa. Where did he get that? It's true that my husband is better at fixing things, but still. I made a point over the next couple of weeks to fix things for him. The next time I fixed a broken toy, he said, with wonder in his voice, "You CAN fix things!"

Kids. They watch everything we do, and they draw conclusions. Even if we tell them that men and women are equally capable of doing anything, unless our deeds truly demonstrate that, they're not going to internalize it.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:29 AM on June 26 [100 favorites]


1) Correlation != causation (as if that's novel)

Well, I think that's what the comment was shooting for, but it went with "cause does not equal effect" which is...um...novel.
posted by yoink at 9:34 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


One easy way to test correlation v causation is to control for working mothers. I skimmed the study and didn't see any place where they looked at the influence of mothers' work, although they did collect that data. Someone with a longer attention span than I have can correct me.
posted by simra at 9:46 AM on June 26



Datapoint here.

My Dad doing the dishes really did have a significant effect on me growing up. It's something that my sisters and I have talked about before and we all have similar experiences with it.


I grew up with the assumption that dishes was more a Dad thing to do. It seemed weird, still does to this day actually, to see my Mom do dishes. It was more then just a gender thing to me though. It was also fairness thing in my mind. It just made sense that if Mom cooked then Dad would clean up. Mom happened to be a better cook so that's how it worked.

I have a distinct memory of visiting a friends house and being invited for dinner. I was probably around 8 years old. Her Mom cooked and when we were done her Dad just got up and went to watch TV. I remember being very confused when her Mom started to clean up.
Little me decided to ask questions.

"Why is your Mom doing dishes when she cooked?"

I don't remember what the answer was but I do remember my reaction. I was perturbed like only a young kid can be and proceeded to vocalize how completely unfair that seemed.

To this day I still wonder if that's why I never went for dinner at her house again.

Everything the study talks about is me to a tee. My sisters too. All ambitious, I've done numerous 'guy' heavy jobs and persued whatever I want regardless of any gender issues. I grew up with the assumption that we could do anything we want and when I was older found it difficult to even believe that there was even any issues about girls not being able to do things.

I also realized that doing dishes or whoever cooks, the other cleans fairness thing was something that made a difference in long term partnerships. It was about gender but more about dividing general household jobs fairly. I don't think that it's accident that in any of my long term relationships if I cooked the guy generally and just automatically cleaned up and vice versa if I cooked. Both my sisters husbands are the same way. Although not a deal breaker guys that wouldn't at least even offer irked and still irk me.

The three us had a conversation with my Dad about this. He was absolutely amazed at how his doing dishes had such an affect on all of us. It seems like such a little thing but for the three girls in our family it really wasn't.
posted by Jalliah at 10:07 AM on June 26 [57 favorites]


I always thought "dad does the dishes" WAS the traditional gender-based household division of labor (I am descended from a long line of men handy with a dishrag but apparently unable to boil water).
posted by drlith at 10:11 AM on June 26


At least until the kids are tall enough to reach the sink.
posted by RobotHero at 10:16 AM on June 26 [8 favorites]


even when fathers publicly endorse gender equality...

I'm curious as to how this was determined.
Are they a public facing employee of a women's advocacy non-profit?
Perhaps they responded in the affirmative when asked by a researcher "on the record".
Did they like the 'gender equality' on facebook without ever having adjusted their privacy settings?

It is my belief, however, that the guy who periodically writes letters to my township's community weekly regarding the grave injustice of his (probably non-existent) son being unable to play junior varsity field hockey was part of their sample and his (non-imagined) daughter wants to be a kindergarten teacher when she grows up.
posted by exit at 10:16 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I would cook more, but my wife doesn't like eating hotdogs and cereal for every meal. So I do the dishes.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:18 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


I like the idea that a girl striving to work in a traditional mans field is "ambitious" whereas one seeking employment as a teacher or nurse could be considered "unambitious" by the same logic.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:19 AM on June 26 [14 favorites]


I'd still bet my partner puts in significantly more time on household stuff on any given week

It's mostly a schedule question with her doing shift work and me doing a 9-5. She doesn't tend to have hours she can spend on housework. She does work the same number of hours as me, but typically we're also not going to run the vacuum at 9pm and risk waking the kid. That kid is terrified of the damned thing. At least she got over her seemingly random and intense fear of garbage bags, that was a bit of a problem, but I digress.

The funny thing is the chores she does put time in are ones I could care less about, but mean something to her (obviously). It's not even a "woman's work/man's work" division there; just a priorities thing. She does stuff like folding laundry and making the bed--she grew up in a B&B and I think she just needs it done fancy now. For me, I don't need it made. At all! I can just toss a sheet and a blanket across the bed and it's done as far as I'm concerned. I mean, what, you planning on having someone come in and take pictures of us while we sleep? We don't need wrinkle-free symmetry here. Folding laundry? If I got something I don't want wrinkled I hang it up. My drawers and undershirts and t-shirts? In a big pile on the shelf in the closet or jumbled in a drawer work just fine for me. But she's content to spend an hour folding clothes on a weekend, so my underwear drawer looks nice or something. To me these are gravy; like we can do that once we got these cheerios and raspberries out of the carpet also I'm pretty sure the baby peed on the bathroom floor at bath time last night so I'm gonna go scrub yaddayaddayadda.
posted by Hoopo at 10:19 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


@exit: All of this is described in detail in the pdf (first link).
posted by simra at 10:21 AM on June 26


I do most of the cooking in my house. I learned to cook in the Boy Scouts and have always loved doing it. But this article has given me a lot to think about, regarding the division of labor in our house. Another data point: my wife grew up doing all of the lawn care at her home, and now does all of the mowing and weed-eating at our house--a situation that my family never ceases to give me shit about.
posted by ColdChef at 10:26 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I'm curious as to how this was determined.

They asked them. Its in the pdf.

Although it appears they were measuring how people explicitly associate roles with gender, rather than measuring a normative belief.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:27 AM on June 26


I am a male "primary carer" for 1 school age daughter (9y) and one pre-school daughter (2.5y). I do all the house work, school stuff, Saturday morning dance classes, swim classes, etc etc.

I've been the "primary carer" for my younger daughter since she was 6 months old, so have done a /lot/ of what is traditionally considered "mothering" while the older daughter has been old enough to understand and observe.

In the evenings I do freelance work as a computer programmer and my interests and background are extremely scientific. At weekends I play lego, computer games and raspberry pi based electronics projects with my older daughter and we talk about science and maths.

In short - she has exposure to a lot of atypical role model and play opportunities. And yet she has a huge insatiable interest in styling her hair, coordinating fantasy outfits on her tablet, buying costume jewellery, listening to pop music and talking about becoming a beautician one day. I asked her why she spends so long doing science things with me when she doesn't seem to want to pursue that and she told me she likes spending time with me and I'm terrible at brushing her hair so it's better to just do the stuff I'm good at. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I would like her to go into computing. It has been a huge passion of mine since my earliest memories. But you should never force you children's dreams. Recently she's been painting my nails while telling me the gossip from the school yard, she seems to much prefer this to the new Mario Kart game, for reasons I simply cannot fathom.

I won't force my children down a path. I'll be honest with them about who I am are and what my personality, emotions and background are really like. I'll let them discover their own self, and what those things mean to them. If they aren't people that want to swim against their culture's norms then I'm not sure there is a lot to be gained by forcing them to do so. I'll give them the option, but I'll let them choose.
posted by samworm at 10:30 AM on June 26 [18 favorites]


for reasons I simply cannot fathom.

Peers, dude. Peers who are girls. And some aggressive-ass marketing of girly things.

Yours truly, a pink-wearing ballet-dancing little girl who grew up and got nerdy regardless. This is not a zero-sum game, I promise.
posted by clavicle at 10:44 AM on June 26 [18 favorites]


i'm the dad that cooks, mostly. and my wife is the mom that does the dishes, mostly. when this arrangement swaps, i don't imagine that the daughters notice much (but after reading this maybe they do). in our house, though, what really aligns with this article is that i am the laundry guy. doing the loads and doing the folding. always. i would be willing to bet that my kids have not seen my wife do laundry more than once or twice in their lifetimes. i am pretty sure that they figure laundry is the dad job, and as they venture forth, i look forward to hearing their experiences with other family approaches.
posted by rude.boy at 10:45 AM on June 26


Dads who do dishes make daughters ambitious?

As a dad who does all of the house work and most of child raising, can I just say how much I HATE that framing (and I know it's the headline of the second link)?

Doing things that women traditionally do doesn't equal a lack of ambition on my part, and it wouldn't equal a lack of ambition on my wife's\daughter's\son's part. While I may lack ambition when it comes to making sure I'm absolutely the best fitted sheet folder in a 3 mile radius, or for that matter working my way up some company ladder, I'm super ambitious when it comes to making sure my family eats food that tastes good and that their diet is healthy and varied. Further more by talking about it that way, the writers are just reinforcing the idea that women are some how less capable than men, and don't do as much. They're devaluing vital contributions to the household, just because women were traditional forced to do them.
posted by Gygesringtone at 10:47 AM on June 26 [9 favorites]


I can vouch for this effect at least for me. For me, it wasn't exactly the same as in the article, because we did have household help, and neither parent did a ton of household stuff on a daily basis, mostly on the weekends. But they did act in a way that suggested that both their careers were equally important, which is something I've noticed is very rare. This often entailed sacrifice (on both their parts). For example, my dad and mom lived apart from each other for a year, while my mom was on a fellowship program in Minnesota and my dad was in LA. We were temporarily poor, living off grad school stipends. It still surprises me how shocking it is to everyone that I stayed with my dad for that year, happy to be in the LA warmth. I'm not sure how he juggled grad school, part-time jobs and me, but he managed it. I still remember that time extremely fondly and it definitely cemented the relationship between my dad and me. It also set the standard for partners' behavior extremely high - I think this is a big part of the reason why I fell for my husband - he was the first guy I met who showed through word and deed that he would be a constant source of support not tension.
posted by peacheater at 10:53 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


My dad never cooked and never cleaned — in fact, he'd be back on his laptop or watching tv 20 seconds after dinner was over. Mom cooked, mom did the dishes unless she could convince me or my sister to help out. And it's really affected me — it's something me and my sister talk about and complain about, and it really scares me that any marriage I have will fall into that pattern even though I only date guys that are into doing the dishes.

I can believe this. It really does lower your opinion of your worth as a person and a woman when you watch your dad ignore any household chores in favor of his own leisure time, whereas my mother — who also, mind you, worked — did everything without complaining.
posted by good day merlock at 10:57 AM on June 26 [15 favorites]


To the people saying they would cook more if only they could cook something other than hot dogs or boiled water, I respectfully submit that you're fully capable of learning to cook, you're just comfortable with the way things are. Nothing wrong with that if it works for you and yours, but don't just assume that there's something inherently wrong with you that prevents your being able to get a meal on the table.
posted by Huck500 at 11:00 AM on June 26 [33 favorites]


Working through this sort of thing, when you have a million other things going on in your life, is a real barrier to picking up cooking skills.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:05 AM on June 26


There's talking the talk and then there's walking the walk.
The first is what you think you think, and the second is what you actually believe.
My parents talked the be anything you want talk but the walk was a whole other kettle of fish right out of the 1950s.
My sister and I both went into heavily male dominated careers, but significant internal conflict ensued because the subtext of how we were raised was "be anything you want, so long as you are also a stereotypical wife and mother." Lots of therapy.
Then I was widowed. Suddenly the walk and the talk were the same, and less than three months after my husband died I was explicitly told to prioritize finding a new husband and having children over pursuing a fulfilling career. Ouch!!!
When I actually made the choice to prioritize a fulfilling career a few months later,* then the shitteth really hitteth the fan. My parents and I are no longer on speaking terms.

So yeah, I'm jumping on the correlation DNE causation bandwagon, because the causation is "the parents do not believe in traditional gender roles" and Dad doing the dishes is just evidence of that. (And so is Mom having a career and not actually doing a full second shift. And so are other non- traditional arrangements.)

So yeah, walk the walk, because your daughters and sons are watching closely and actions speak louder than words.

* And I am daily stunned by how well it has worked out and grateful for how much happiness I have been blessed with, despite the ensuing fallout.
posted by susiswimmer at 11:06 AM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Dads who do dishes make daughters ambitious?


Ugh, why did I do that? Now I have "Moses Supposes His Toeses Are Roses" caught in my head.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:08 AM on June 26 [14 favorites]


Working through this sort of thing, when you have a million other things going on in your life, is a real barrier to picking up cooking skills.


Interestingly, I think that my dad doing most of the cooking in our household when I was growing up has led me to have a very different relationship with cooking than many people's. Even in the '70s, this was still seen as somewhat eccentric, but I feel like its part of the reason I now have a much more instinctive sense of what to do in a kitchen.


In fact, I often wish I'd paid more attention to what he was doing, because he is really good at it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:12 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


My father has never put a dish in the sink after eating and lightly rinsed it.

True story.
posted by Fizz at 11:12 AM on June 26


One obvious explanation for this not-very-surprising "finding" is that men do more housework if their wives work outside the home. And if moms work outside the home, their daughters are more likely to follow that pattern, or to be encouraged by the parents to follow that pattern.

OTOH, if I was a little girl whose mother worked a demanding job outside the home, then came home and had to do all the housework herself, too, I might be more inclined to say, "Screw that; when I'm growing up I'll go into a field that leaves me more time and energy to do the 'second shift.'"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:19 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


I dunno; it seems there's this pile-on (not just at MeFi, but in general) about every new study in the social sciences.

Everybody wants every study to study everything and be all studies to all people. Well, that's just not how it works. This study is about children in households with Situation X. The fact that it doesn't also cover children in households with Situations A, B. C. and D doesn't mean that it's a bad or worthless study. It just means that if you want to know more about how growing up in Situations A, B. C. and D affects children, you need to do other studies.

Sometimes it feels like everybody's mad because there aren't enough Lucky Charms marshmallows in this bowl of cereal without taking into account that it's a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Cap'n Crunch isn't bad cereal because it doesn't happen to be Lucky Charms.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:26 AM on June 26 [10 favorites]


I doubt many girls think that they'll take a less demanding career because they want to have more time to do housework, which is in my experience often invisible and not well appreciated work. My intuition says this is probably especially true where we consider fields traditionally dominated by women as less ambitious.

Even this study seems to frame, maybe unintentionally, traditionally female dominated fields as less worthy. Also, I think its not helpful to frame interest in female subjects such as makeup and clothing as inferior it continues a trend of thinking of traditionally male things as more worthy - and more neutral - than female ones. We should be working towards a society where people chose jobs and hobbies based on their aptitude and preferences without worrying about whether its ambitious enough or whether they're properly subverting norms.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 11:30 AM on June 26 [10 favorites]


The last time my husband had a business trip, we explained to my daughter that Mommy would make her breakfast. Her response:

"Noooooo! Daddy makes breakfast. You can only get Cheerios."

She still wants to be Tinkerbell when she grows up, though.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:33 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


My Dad doing the dishes really did have a significant effect on me growing up. It's something that my sisters and I have talked about before and we all have similar experiences with it.

My four sisters and I were all raised by a single dad for years and it made a huge impression on all of us. Even before my parents divorced, they divvied up housework, and often when I think about it I am amazed by what a profound effect it had on me. In my boyfriend's household, his mom did all the cooking and cleaning and chores, and the thought sounds downright unnatural to me. My policy is do what needs to be done, male or female, and I can't be serious with a guy who isn't the same way. Last week said boyfriend cooked dinner while I built a bookshelf, and we both did the dishes together. Damn harmonious.

I don't think the logic is that men who pursue "feminine" careers are unambitious. Girls/women who pursue male interests are ambitious because they're stepping out of their comfort zone. Ditto boys/men. It just so happens that often there is much further to go in traditionally male careers/hobbies--when evaluated by traditionally male metrics.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:49 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


She still wants to be Tinkerbell when she grows up, though.


"Immortal Fairy" is a pretty ambitious career choice.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:50 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


Both my parents cooked, my mother more so than my father, but he definitely knew how to cook a full meal. He was also the weekend breakfast cook. He could cut up a chicken like nobody’s business, something I can’t do well to this day. My father is very tidy and would clean up while he cooked but didn’t usually do the dishes after a meal. He also folded laundry, though I don’t remember him loading the washer and dryer, swept and mopped.

Overall, however, chores were definitely divided by gender. I come from a family of five children, three older girls and two younger boys. The girls had dishwashing duty and the boys took out the trash and helped with the yard. None of the girls ever helped outside.

Both my brothers are very decent cooks and can prepare full meals and have always been the primary cook in their homes. They are also very neat. I do most of the cooking in my house but I’m a good cook and I like to do it. If I cook, I don’t do dishes, though like my father I try to clean up whatever dishes I dirtied while cooking.

I like the idea that a girl striving to work in a traditional man’s field is "ambitious" whereas one seeking employment as a teacher or nurse could be considered "unambitious" by the same logic.

I struggle with this. I’m black and my mother, grandmother and great aunts were tall teachers. College educated black women of their generations became teachers or nurses as those were the only occupations really open to them. When my niece started college two years ago with the intention of becoming a nurse, I can’t even describe my disappointment. I know there’s nothing wrong with being a nurse, but sixty years later and we’re right back where we started.
posted by shoesietart at 11:52 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


Enjoying traditionally feminine things is not the opposite of ambitious, folks.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:53 AM on June 26 [15 favorites]


Working through this sort of thing, when you have a million other things going on in your life, is a real barrier to picking up cooking skills.

But then the follow-up question is: If the explanation is just that it's hard to learn to cook, why is it that women seem to learn to cook more often than men?

We're not born learning how to cook and I honestly doubt the discrepancy can be entirely attributed to what people's parents teach them. I learned to cook when I moved out and had to start providing for myself. It took some time. My life was a mess, also--it wasn't like I had tons of free time or money. But, I felt like it was something I should do.

Sure, on an individual level, a given man might not have the time or money to learn to cook. But men saying stuff like "I don't cook because I can't make anything more complicated than boiled hot dogs"* is a larger pattern. I think we have to consider the societal pressures that subtly shape our sense of value and obligation as well.

* Men also don't do many other household chores because they don't know how.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:03 PM on June 26 [6 favorites]


All that said above, my sisters and I have been ambitious in our professional pursuits.
posted by shoesietart at 12:05 PM on June 26


Enjoying traditionally feminine things is not the opposite of ambitious, folks.


No, but pursuing a career in a field that is overtly or covertly hostile to your gender *is* ambitious.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 12:09 PM on June 26 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure little girls thinking that their father does roles formerly traditionally handed off to women without question and still fantasizing about fairies/princesses/fairy princesses if they want is an example of the Feminist Utopia some of us are looking to build in the world.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:24 PM on June 26 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure growing up in a house where Dad does dishes makes a girl think "hey look, he did a woman's job". More likely they just don't relate certain jobs to a specific gender (or not as much).
posted by double bubble at 12:51 PM on June 26


Interesting. Cooking and household chores were largely left to my mom when I was growing up (in fact it was a running joke that the only thing my dad knew how to cook was PB&J), but I still went straight to engineering. I think the thing that made a difference for me, is when my dad did all the "manly" stuff like car maintenance and yard work, he let me join in. For a summer or two I was just the right size to sit on his lap on the lawn tractor, so we mowed the grass together, hooked up the wagon and moved logs around the yard, all that fun stuff. Whenever there was something that needed fixing, he'd explain to me how the thing worked and what was wrong. He'd let me help as best I could, even if it just meant holding the flashlight or bringing over a different wrench. So although I never saw my mom mow the grass or lift a hammer, I knew there was nothing stopping me from doing those things. Sure, I was a girl like my mom, but I was my dad's daughter too.

Although maybe it would have been different if I hadn't been an only child stuck in the boonies with no other kids around, where spending the weekend helping with dad chores actually seemed fun.
posted by gueneverey at 12:56 PM on June 26


Right, but parents of little girls who like princesses and ballet should not despair that their daughters are doomed to a life of mediocrity and low expectations, regardless of who does the dishes.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:13 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Working through this sort of thing, when you have a million other things going on in your life, is a real barrier to picking up cooking skills.

But then the follow-up question is: If the explanation is just that it's hard to learn to cook, why is it that women seem to learn to cook more often than men?


Because we don't teach them, yeah. Nutrition and food preparation (along with other basic life lessons) really need to be a bigger feature in schools in my opinion. And I don't mean in the "Eat broccoli instead of chips so you don't get fat." lecture kind of way.

Convenience foods are a big part of life now, and you can make good cheap meals at home that are mostly simple enough but even that requires some basic instructions all kids should get. Leave the more advanced stuff to home if parents want. Cooking is definitely something that can reasonably handled by one partner in the relationship who is better at it/enjoys it if housework is otherwise well balanced to account for that. Talent with it does pay off with more enjoyable meals.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:20 PM on June 26


In our house, ironing was Dad's job. Now that I'm married to a guy in the military who is OCD about doing his own ironing of his uniforms I'm still not convinced ironing is not "men's work." (Meanwhile, I buy non-wrinkle clothes and call it a day...)

At any rate though, I see a lot of truth in this study. My parents have always tried to split up housework, not just because Mom was often gone for weeks or months at a time with her job in the Air Force, but because they thought it was the right thing to do. Dad hated being called "Mr. Mom" whenever it was his turn to assume primary caretaker duties and my parents have always been vehemently against the idea that if Dad was home with us one evening, he was "babysitting." No, he was parenting. I think that absolutely influenced my view of how marriage and parenting should work, and made me think I could handle a career in engineering no problem, and while I can be pointed at as a feminist female engineer and someone can say "well, duh", I think the more significant influence is on my younger brother, who for all he is a conservative jock frat boy with a number of very traditional views, was telling me a couple years ago how he really can't ever see himself with anyone but an ambitious career woman. Thus, with my anecdata point of 1, even if this study didn't see any effect on the boys' choice of career, I like to think it affects their choice of female life partner.
posted by olinerd at 1:40 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Daddy's little girl here:

My dad didn't cook, didn't really do the dishes either. He didn't help with any of the chores at all that I can recall. He was a librarian and retired to be a writer.

My mom did daycare and was an Avon lady. She cooked dinner and did dishes every night, did all the housecleaning.

My dad taught me how to fence in the living room when I was 8. He also showed me how to make my own bow and arrow and we shot my mom's left over Avon boxes in the basement. My mom got her acceptance from vet school revoked when they found out that Robin was a girl's name, not a boys. She told me that story a lot when I was in high school and told me to never let anyone tell me I can't do something I want to do.

I am captain of a 104' charter schooner, holding a USCG 200 ton license. That's not exactly stereotypical to my gender...

I think it's less the separation of chores in the household than it is not being treated like a delicate little girl, and most of all it is the amount of times you are told by your parents that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up and don't let anyone tell you differently.
posted by danapiper at 1:50 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Oh yay, more overhyped tabloid social science research.

It appears to me that the researchers tried to predict the beliefs of children using the beliefs of their parents, and basically failed. Boys and girls in general have measurably different beliefs but most measures of parental beliefs were not found to be related to children's beliefs. A couple passed the all-important p<0.05 test and were therefore deemed worthy of a fancy reductive headline, but even these explain maybe 1 or 2 percent of the variation in children's beliefs. Am I reading the appendix incorrectly?

By the way, I am flabbergasted that "correlation is not causation" has become a sort of punchline on Metafilter. There's a lot of crappy social science out there, and single studies that become widely hyped enough to end up as a FPP are disproportionately likely to be crap. Psychological Science in particular publishes lots of tabloid nonsense.
posted by leopard at 2:09 PM on June 26


> "Immortal Fairy" is a pretty ambitious career choice.

Wait, Tink is immortal? Then what was all that "Tinkerbell is dying, clap like a maniac if you believe" stuff about? I clapped like a maniac. still do

I figure the main obstacle to growing up to be Tinkerbell is the bit about being four inches tall. (Though the European Southern Observatory may have spotted a somewhat larger one.)
posted by jfuller at 2:10 PM on June 26


It appears to me that the researchers tried to predict the beliefs of children using the beliefs of their parents, and basically failed. Boys and girls in general have measurably different beliefs but most measures of parental beliefs were not found to be related to children's beliefs.

That wasn't what they were trying to show. They were trying to show that the behavior of parents influences children's behavior.

but even these explain maybe 1 or 2 percent of the variation in children's beliefs.

Which is huge.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:18 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


They regress three measures of children's beliefs against six measures of parents' beliefs and behavior, plus they look at this for each gender of parent and each gender of child, so we have 72 possible connections they could have found. The regression is pretty much dominated by child gender and unexplained variation, but out of the 72 possible connections they remarkably find 2 or 3 that are "statistically significant" and suddenly we end up trumpeting "daddy doing the dishes" as having a "unique gatekeeper role" because "daughters are clearly watching."

I have no idea why the researchers aren't trumpeting the fact that they found none of the mother variables mattered at all. "Mothers have no impact on children's attitudes, researchers find." "It just doesn't matter what a mom does, whether she explicitly or implicitly holds feminist beliefs or not, or whether she works more inside or outside the home," said no one ever. I guess it lacks that "je ne sais quoi" of daddy doing the dishes, which is both intuitive and counterintuitive enough to whip up some publicity.
posted by leopard at 2:48 PM on June 26 [5 favorites]


By the way, this is another reason why a more Bayesian approach to social science research would be helpful. A priori, I think people would expect the effects of the various parent variables to be correlated with each other, some more than others. If children are really watching, they're likely to be watching many things (again, some more than others). It doesn't really make sense that they'd be watching daddy doing the dishes but completely ignoring whether mommy goes to work or not and ignoring what daddy says about women working. A Bayesian approach that incorporated this prior knowledge would do a better job of identifying statistical artifacts as such (instead of flagging such artifacts as uniquely important variables or whatever).
posted by leopard at 3:01 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Have you ever heard someone refer to a male flight attendant as ambitious? Think about that.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:14 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


What if your dad is really obsessively weird about cleaning and freaks out about stuff like you putting your schoolbooks on the stairs to your room because OMG WE WILL PROBABLY ALL DIE IF YOU LEAVE THOSE THERE to the point of your mom and yourself making Phil Hartman on SNL Anal Retentive Carpenter jokes, because he's a carpenter? WHAT THEN?

(I'll tell you what: you get a daughter who cleans things REALLY VIOLENTLY when she's angry instead of yelling or doing normal stuff, and a son in law who knows to run the hell away if that scrubber sponge is getting a workout).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:18 PM on June 26


leopard: It might just as well be construed as a reason to slap the Bonferonni correction on everything, or the familywise (heh) correction, or to try to get social science kids to do real thinking on that front.
posted by curuinor at 5:20 PM on June 26


I don't necessarily want more math, just better thinking.
posted by leopard at 5:55 PM on June 26


Enjoying traditionally feminine things is not the opposite of ambitious, folks.

Yeah, the study is really interesting, but it makes me feel kind of bad about being a stay-at-home mom. But my dad did the dishes! Where did things go wrong?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:01 AM on June 27


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