Women Who Don’t Share Household Duties Less Career-Oriented

January 18, 2013  |  
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Working moms know balancing work life and home life is far from easy. They want to give both roles their all, but it’s not always possible. And a new study from the University of California, Berkeley found that mothers may not even want to give their all, at least not when it comes to their careers. Researchers found that many women who are the heads of their households have less energy for or interest in being head of the company.

Women reported that having power at home made them less likely to seek power at work, though the male participants in the study didn’t feel the same way. When the 136 participants, both male and female, were asked if they felt making household decisions was empowering, they answered yes. But that survey was followed up by a second study of 166 women. First they were asked to imagine they were married with one child and made all the household decision and then they were asked to imagine themselves married with a child but sharing decision-making with her husband. After each scenario they were asked to rank their life goals. The women who imagined the second scenario ranked career-related benefits like a bigger salary higher than women who imagined themselves ruling the roost without hubby’s help.

But it wasn’t just about being tired from running things that made women in the sole decision maker group less ambitious at work. When men and women were asked if they wanted to share power with their partners, have all the power or do most of the chores without having power. The women who were asked to imagine themselves with all the power still felt less interested in workplace achievement than women who were placed in the chores category.

In spite of recent gains in gender equality, men are still more likely to defer to women when it comes to chores, finances and child-reading issues. And it seems power in this area leads to less interest in having power in other areas. This isn’t always a conscious choice, of course, but the study’s authors hope women will be more mindful of how they make their career decisions. Researchers concluded that in order for women to do well in their careers and at home, they have need to share the decision-making responsibility with their spouses.

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