I’ve always been one to challenge gender roles. As a young girl I was certainly the odd one out.
I was more inclined to build a cubby house from scraps of wood from around the yard rather than play with dolls in one. I was the type of young lady that was the only female in a class of boys doing woodwork in high school. My afternoons were spent playing cricket with the boys. Let’s just say, for most of my childhood I found it difficult to be accepted due to not conforming to the usual ‘girl’ mould.
I was raised to believe that I could do anything and that included what boys could do. This has created an interesting life journey so far.
The thing is, whether we like it or not, gender bias exists. As the theme of International Women’s Day this year is ‘Choose to Challenge’, I thought what better way to discuss a few things that I believe we can do better. Firstly, I believe that gender equality needs to start at home.
Mum and Dad’s Roles
One of the blessings of Covid, is that many men have been working from home. They are getting a front row seat to the daily demands of running a home and caring for kids.
Although many men have experienced traditional role reversals for short stints, most have never worked from home for an extended period whilst also being the primary caregiver for their children. It’s a fact that in most homes, this work has fallen onto the women who are often also doing their fair share of working too.
Men taking on more domestic duties for an extended period of time has the potential to create a sea change in gendered norms. These changes could be at both home and at work.
I see a generation of incredible women who are trying to ‘do it all’ – being ‘super women’ at home and at work, but are we creating a rod for our own backs?
I think so; it’s unsustainable and we generate more work for ourselves if we keep taking it all on – believing; ‘it’s faster if I just do it myself”, “I have to do everything – I’m the mum”, “they’re too little to help, I can do it all until they’re older”, “it’s not worth the arguments, I’ll just do it”.
Let it go ladies (and the men that do this too!). Family life is a team sport and everyone needs to do their part.
Making Changes for Gender Equality
So how do we choose to challenge and change it?
Well, there is no time like the present to check in with your partner and do a domestic duties audit to assess how you’re doing and where you can involve the kids, and split some of the tasks and mental load to each other. Or if you are a single parent, do a self-audit and see where you are taking on things other family members can help with.
Remember, just because you can do it – doesn’t mean you should.
Sure- some people will never do a job as well as you do (like fold linen), but you have to let some of this go if we are going to have households that break down gender stereotypes. The world has changed, and women need more equity in the workforce, but also on the home front.
Start with outsourcing the “what’s for dinner” question that 95 percent of mums get asked every night. As a family, sit down and decide the meal plan for the week together. Create a shopping list together, work out who can cook what meals that week and who can help prepare the ingredients. I think if every household did this, it’s one big change that will take some of the mental load off busy mums and that’s a win for everyone.