Recently I was emailed by Proctor & Gamble wondering if I may be interested in posting something for International Women’s Day about the surveying they had just undertaken exploring “the changing face of motherhood”. Not changing quite fast enough. Here’s how they reported some of their findings to me:
When it comes to helping out with childcare in the home, dads are doing the lion’s share at 70% with grandmas coming in at number two (21%).
That’s not saying that those women surveyed reported fathers as doing 70% of the workload with parenting, that’s saying that 70% of mothers nominated fathers as the main person ‘helping them out with childcare’. (Exactly how much help is going on, who knows, it doesn’t seem to have been asked but it would have been a much more worthwhile question?) But here we go again. Fathers do not ‘help out with childcare’. They look after their own children, just as mothers do. Calling this responsibility by any other term is belittling to fathers. ‘Childcare’ is part of the work of being a father, it is not some generous extra service gifted to mothers. Even the term ‘childcare’ suggests an outsourced care responsibility.
Of course, here’s the crux of the P&G research:
With products designed to make everyday tasks like washing the dishes a little easier and more enjoyable, P&G helps to support mums everywhere in small but meaningful ways. That is why the company likes to think of itself as the Proud Sponsor of Mums. Not surprisingly, getting more help around the home was deemed by most mums as the key to improving their quality of life.
If you mean sharing the workload of domestic labour more equitably then yes, mothers do indeed believe that this is “key to improving their quality of life”. Problem is, getting “more help around the home” suggests that domestic work is solely the responsibility of mothers. If other households are like mine, both fathers and mothers are doing the work of cleaning in our house, not quite equitably enough for my liking but we’re working on that – so, it is probably about time cleaning products were marketed to both of us.
I have emailed P&G about this problem with their research and reporting.. I will let you know if I get a response.