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Study: When Dads Do Chores, Daughters Get More Ambitious

Study says dads who do chores inspire daughters to be more ambitious
Photograph by Getty Images/Hemera

The secret to raising an overly ambitious, glass-ceiling-shattering daughter? Just get your husband to do some more chores around the house.

We know what you're thinking: Easier said than done. But according to new research, little girls who grow up watching their dads pitch in with housework tend to be more inspired to go for higher-paying jobs that are traditionally considered "male jobs." The evidence comes from a study due to be published by the Association of Psychological Science, which found that girls from households where the workload is shared tend to dream of being things like a police officer, doctor or scientist one day. On the flip side, in homes where dads barely washed a dish, girls tended to grow up and take on traditionally "female" jobs, like nursing, teaching or being a stay-at-home mom.

So just to get things straight: While you've been thinking all this time that your work example would have the strongest impact on your daughter's future, it's really been her dad's example that has the biggest impact after all.

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

Another key takeaway from the study? According to Croft, when it comes to inspiring our girls, showing is better than telling.

"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," said Croft. "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."

Pretty fascinating stuff. You can read more about the study's findings here.

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