He said, she said: Canadian parents disagree on who is responsible for the housework

September 28, 2016
3 min read

Gender continues to be a factor in the household division of labour, with Canadian moms being primarily responsible for tasks ‘inside’ the home. Moms see themselves as the primary person responsible for scheduling appointments or extracurricular activities for their kids, preparing meals and snacks and doing the household. Dads, on the other hand, see themselves as primarily responsible for household repairs and yard work. This division of labour by chores ‘inside’ vs ‘outside’ the home indicates that moms are primarily responsible for child-related duties.

Having said this, it cannot be denied that the definition of masculinity today is changing; men are taking part in household chores and childcare more than ever before. A greater participation in the home is reflective of an evolving definition of masculinity. As discussed in Mintel Trend Man in the Mirror, the image of today’s man is one who looks after himself, puts effort into the way he looks, is more hands-on when it comes to childcare and more active in the home.

Not seeing eye to eye

This shift is creating an interesting dynamic in Canadian households where a clear discrepancy is seen between Canadian mothers and fathers: Canadian parents are not aligned in terms of perceived contribution and responsibility for household tasks. For example, where moms are more likely to see themselves as primarily responsible for chores such as meal/snack preparation and household cleaning, dads are much more likely to see the task as shared. In other words, moms may not be not giving due credit to dads’ contributions. At the same time, dads may be giving themselves too much credit for their contributions. Most likely, the truth lies somewhere in between.

What this means for brands and companies

The key is to recognize that even if each side has an inflated perception of what they do (ie men think they cook and/or clean more than they actually do), marketers need to cater to their perceptions as they are held as this is, in essence, their reality. This suggests that household brands may be able to win over moms by acknowledging the time and effort they put into the home and their children. At the same time, it also means that ample opportunities exist in marketing efforts targeting dads and innovations that help dads with these chores.

Although the data suggests that moms continue to do the lion’s share of housework, there is no question that participating in raising children is a natural part of a dad’s identity. While society has undoubtedly shifted towards a more equitable one, continuing to recognize and pay attention to issues of inequality will be necessary in order to help close the existing gaps. To this end, marketers have the opportunity to help challenge the status quo by promoting a more equal home partnership.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries. She has worked in market research and consulting for over 8 years both on the research and supplier side.

Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li

Carol Wong-Li is Mintel’s Director of Consumers & Culture Reports.

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