So much of the narrative on gender equality focuses on working women, likely because the statistics on pay and board membership tell such a compelling story. Working moms are directed to role models like Sheryl Sandberg, Mary Barra, and Indra Nooyi to show us that women and mothers can succeed at the highest levels of our craft. We are told that we should “take a seat at the table” in meetings and to support the success of our female coworkers. We focus on things like executive presence, professional development, and work-life balance. I wonder, how do these lessons on gender equality apply to our other colleagues, the stay-at-home-moms, and to our lives at home?
If we take a seat at the table in meetings, are we also sitting at the head of the table in our dining rooms?
A recent study indicates that the tide is working against women in the fight for gender equality at home, even as women seem to be making ground in the workplace. There must be ways that women are pushing for parity at home – it seems that we are, in ways that are both subtle and extreme.
A few months ago, Target received praise for a boy’s t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Strong Like Mom.” I immediately went out and bought one for my daughter. I noticed that many of my mom friends had done the same for their children. I will be honest, in my small, suburban social circle, I didn’t see any posts from Dads that had done the same. It made me wonder, by purchasing a shirt that doesn’t conform to traditional gender norms, are women subtly forcing the issue of gender equality at home?
After reading a few articles on this topic, I noticed that suddenly I saw a bunch of other content online that begged the same kind of question. Yes, this could have been the algorithms stalking me, but I will take it as a sign from the universe.
A post shared by a friend on Facebook was written from the perspective of a husband, and he basically said, “I don’t ‘help’ my wife because it’s not my job to ‘help’ her. We are partners, and the things I do at home are my obligation to my children, household, and family because I am a grown-up.” Since that is true, can we change the way we talk to our partners about housework so that we aren’t talking about “helping,” we are talking about “partnering?” Does it support the issue of gender equality if we use different terminology to describe how we share responsibility for the house and family?
I can’t be the only one who has noticed the proliferation of the side hustle, can I? How many of us have seen a Facebook post about leggings, essential oils, or nail wraps and thought to ourselves, “enough is enough?” What if, instead of being irritated by those posts, we view it from a different lens? It is possible that for every essential oil, weight loss supplement, or wrinkle cream we buy is a step forward for gender equality at home. And if that is the case, do we feel different about being invited to yet another online party?
Another interesting article about a study on infidelity shows that the rate at which women cheat on their husbands is on the rise. The author supposes that one reason is that women are using infidelity to help level the playing field with their partners. I realize that this is an extreme example of a way that women are creating gender equality at home, but the fact that it’s even a consideration is profound.
My sister the scientist will be horrified by this post, which is full of seemingly baseless opinion, untested hypotheses, and unanswered questions. I am okay with that. I want to hear from you, the working moms and the stay-at-home-moms, how do you create gender equality at home?