• Corporate Culture
  • Flexible Working
  • Women Leaders

What’s the secret to a woman in the C-Suite? It might be a man with a vacuum.

It’s not as crazy as you think.

A hallmark of our 2018 Modern Family Index was that even when women climb the ladder as breadwinners at work, they’re doing more of the heavy lifting at home.

  • 59% of mothers do the bulk of the childcare, compared to 17% of men.
  • Over 40% of mothers do household chores when they get home from work, compared to 23% of men.
  • 55% of mothers say it is easier for them to leave work if there’s a childcare issue, compared to 27% of men.

Working women and the high-cost of old stereotypes

It isn’t necessarily by choice. Old stereotypes die hard. And when men are penalised harshly for taking time for families at work – and our male MFI participants told us they are – the burden falls on women to pick up the slack. The added weight on women to handle not just the housework but the drop-offs and the appointment-making and the remembering of who has to go where (what’s known as the Mental Load) has repercussions: mental load is causing 20% of women to consider reducing their workload and dialling back their careers.

It begs the question… what would happen if working fathers were freed to do their share? Year after year we’ve heard stories about judgment from bosses and colleagues that keep men from pitching in… which ensures women are carrying the load.

Freeing women to work by freeing men to parent

So if family responsibilities are holding women back, and workplace stereotypes are keeping men from helping, it stands to reason that freeing men to help would have the extra-added benefit of helping women professionally as well.

As Samantha Samel wrote on Fairy Godboss recently, “In order for women to successfully take on roles that have previously been dominated by men in the workplace, assumptions about their life at home may have to be reconsidered.”

The man with a vacuum may be just symbolic. But the facts remain: when men can do their share with the family at home, women can clean up at work.


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