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University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada
Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)

Studies show that modern-day mothers continue to take on most of the child and household work in family homes – even when they have careers on top of everything, finds child and youth care expert Dr. Jessica Ball.

Ball is a professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria who has focused much of her research on addressing the societal beliefs that contribute to lower involvement from men in child care and housework, especially during the global pandemic.

Ball takes special interest in Canadian mother-father partnerships, and her findings are that women are still taking on a disproportionate amount of child and household care.

“If we do not support the active involvement of fathers in direct child care and housework, then we’ll never achieve gender equality in this country,” said Ball.

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She added that although the modern world presents many more opportunities to women outside the home, men have not been actively included in education and resources about how to better contribute as parents within the home.

As a result, Ball found that working mothers still do more work around the house, which she said leads to mental health issues and marital dissatisfaction.

“There are a tsunami of forces that work against men becoming more involved, so it’s a societal problem that then becomes a relationship problem.”

Ball said that although the burden on women persists, encouraging parents to share this more equally is almost never suggested as part of the solution to improving overall well-being in the home.

As Ball works to encourage men to move beyond “mother’s helpers,” part of the teaching she offers will be through a podcast meant to deconstruct societal messaging around the issue.

If you’re interested in learning more, listen in on the podcast series set to begin in July – It’s About Time: Positive Father Involvement and Gender Equality during COVID 19.

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