Being the cool dad: Why fathers who do laundry make their daughters more ambitious

Think of the times when the father calms down the baby when she wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and checks if she's wet, hungry or cold. All this while, the mother sleeps after a day's work. It may sound unfamiliar, but yes, this is happening.

And, this is not just a way of letting their wives do much more in life, but these fathersare also setting a great example and in turn, helping their daughters become more ambitious.

According to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study, a father who performs a greater share of 'traditionally female' household chores such as cooking and cleaning, his daughteris more likely to pursueto aspire to more gender-neutral careers, such as a doctor or an astronaut, or even a professional hockey player than a stereotypical female career such as nursing, teaching or staying at home with the kids.

"Even when fathers publicly endorsed gender equality, if they retained a traditional division of labor at home, their daughters were more likely to envision themselves in traditionally female-dominant jobs, such as nurse, teacher, librarian, or stay-at-home-mom," reports theAssociation for Physiological Science.

Read the research report here.

The research notes that by pitching in at home, fathers may be signaling to daughters that they can expect men to help with chores, allowing women more time for work. And hence, their daughters become more ambitious while choosing their career.

The study was conducted by interviewing 326 children, in the age range of 7 to 13, and at least one of their parents. Through the study, researchers determined the parents' stereotypic leanings, division of chores and paid work, and the kids' career aspirations.

Not surprisingly, women bore most of the housework, and both adults and children supported that stereotype.

On average, mothers reported doing 68.2 percent of child care and housework, compared with 42.2 percent reported by fathers. Less than 15 percent households reported to have shared domestic chores equally.

"When mothers explicitly believed that women are more likely than men to handle domestic tasks, and when fathers explicitly self-stereotyped as work-oriented, boys and girls both reported stereotypic beliefs about the gender distribution of domestic labor," the report noted.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, the number of stay-at-home fathers globally has doubled in the last 25 years, reaching a peak of 2.2 million in 2010. And the stay-at-home fathers love being around their kids and doing what traditionally a mother would do. Surely, this is a good sign as the report is probably one of the first evidence thatfathers shape their daughters' aspirations even more strongly than their mothers, even though she is considered to be theprimary caregiver and gender-role model.

Although the scenario in India is quite different, but it's changing. According to a survey conducted by Business Today, 12 percent of unmarried Indian men would consider being a stay-at-home dad.

Sociologist Sushma Tulzhapurkar told The Times of India thatthis a shift in the Indian society."Around 10 years back, it was an unheard concept and not to mention socially unacceptable for men to give up their jobs and remain at home," she told the newspaper.

Interestingly, astudy conducted by the Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, also shows thathousework and childcare help men live longer. The scientists found that slacking over housework and shirking childcare responsibilities is bad for men's health and can even lead to them 'dying of boredom'.

Are more Indian men willing to be the 'cool dads'?

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Updated Date: Sep 15, 2014 14:32:56 IST


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