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May 28, 2014 12:15 PM EDT

Fathers Who Help With Household Chores May Bolster Daughters' Aspirations


Fathers who help out with household chores bolster their daughters' aspirations, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada found that dads who do chores are more likely to raise who aspire to less traditional, and potentially higher paying, careers. Their study suggests that while mothers' gender and work equality beliefs were key factors in predicting kids' attitudes toward gender, the strongest predictor of daughters' own professional ambitions was their fathers' approach to household chores.

"This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents," Alyssa Croft, lead author of the study and a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia's Dept. of Psychology, said in a statement. "How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role."

Researchers said that 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.

For the study, researchers calculated the division of chores and paid labor for the households of more than 300 children between the ages of 7 and 13. They also determined the career stereotypes that participants identified with, their gender and work attitudes and children's career aspirations.

They found mothers shouldered more of the burden of housework than men. Parents and kids associated women more than men with childcare and domestic work, and girls were still significantly more likely than boys to say they want be like adults who take care of kids rather than someone who has a career.

"'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.

She noted that girls might be learning from an early age to take on additional roles, rather than different roles, compared to boys.

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