A Salute to Fathers Who Raise Female Leaders

June 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Fathers DayFathers have a big impact on what their little girls do later in life. I remember my husband taking that first look at our little red-head when she was born and saying, “No one is going to stand in the way of anything she wants to do.”

It seems there is actual research to back up the father’s role in gender equality in the workplace, but the research is a little different than you might imagine; it’s not just about attitudes but more about actions. The study, from the University of British Columbia, shows that households with more gender-egalitarian roles actually inspire girls to wide-reaching career roles. Another case of “it’s not what you say, but what you do.”

What does this mean? In households where parents share household duties, girls were more likely to see their future roles with less gender bias.

“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 the Association for Physiological Science.

As the mother, my gender and work equality beliefs are key in predicting my children’s attitudes toward gender, but, according to the study, the strongest predictor of daughters’ own professional ambitions was their fathers’ approach to household chores.

Why is this important to know?

“This study is important because it suggests that achieving gender equality at home may be one way to inspire young women to set their sights on careers from which they have traditionally been excluded,” says Alyssa Croft, a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Dept. of Psychology.

IMG_2016Girls are very sensitive to societal expectations, and are aware of the roles they’d be expected to take as wife, mother and housekeeper.

Back to the Dunham household, I have to thank my husband on this Father’s Day for being an inspiration for our daughter. He has been there to share in everything as we brought up a strong daughter and strong son. He has cooked, folded clothes, fixed cars and even shopped with our children. Today, our daughter is a rising public relations professional.

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