Brief description of the issue
Women today still do a greater part of the household chores (Couturier et Posca, 2014). From early childhood and on, we can notice that some toys marketed for girls, therefore pink and purple and glittering, are directly inspired by household chores: kitchenettes, brooms, vacuum cleaners, etc. In an educational setting, we also notice that the educators ask girls more often than boys to put away toys at the end of the day (Ducret et Le Roy, 2012; SCF, 2011).
General Best Practices
Grandparents, mothers and fathers, as well as educators, are role models for children. As parents, educators or caretakers, being aware of the chores and roles we do ourselves or the ones we suggest children take on are possibilities for children to witness and learn gender stereotypes or gender-equal behaviours that can influence their present or future actions.
Sharing household chores equally between parents, caretakers and siblings will allow the child to understand that different abilities and skills can be developed, and that girls and boys alike can be able and interested in doing those chores, no matter what their gender is. At the childcare center as well as home, girls can be invited more often to play with some games (for example, construction blocks) or to help out with fixing something that is broken. As for boys, they can be invited to play fine motor skills games, to do the dishes or to help out with the caring needs of a younger sibling or child. In the medium to long term, this education can only lead to a more gender-equal society (SCF, 2011, p. 23).
This page gathers a few concrete activities and practices that can be put in place, so children don’t associate certain chores with a gender or another.
Randomly Assigning Chores
To assign chores to children in a gender-equal way, write their names on plastic balls of different colors and pick one of them when you need a child to do a specific chore. This way, each child can be asked to do any chore (BBC, 2018).
Avoid associating a chore with a gender. For example, if you need to move an object or a small piece of furniture, don’t automatically ask boys to help you out. At this age, there is no difference between the strength of a girl or a boy. If you use pictograms to show which chores need to be done, avoid pink and blue. Finally, invite children to take on non-stereotypical responsibilities or tasks that go against gender stereotypes.
Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes
It is possible that a boy doesn’t want to do a chore because “it’s a girl thing” or that a girl refuses to perform a task traditionally assigned to boys. When this happens, take the time to talk with them in order to better seize their understanding and to break down their perceptions when they hold gender stereotypes (SCF, 2011).
BBC (2018). No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?, Outline Productions. https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2017/33/no-more-boys-and-girls
Couturier, E-L. & Posca, J. (2014). Tâches domestiques: encore loin d’un partage équitable [Household chores: still far away from an equal sharing], Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques. https://cdn.iris-recherche.qc.ca/uploads/publication/file/14-01239-IRIS-Notes-Taches-domestiques_WEB.pdf
Ducret, V. et Le Roy, V. (2012). La poupée de Timothée et le camion de Lison. Guide d’observation des comportements des professionnel-le-s de la petite enfance envers les filles et les garçons. Le deuxième Observatoire, Geneva. http://www.2e-observatoire.com/downloads/livres/brochure14.pdf
Secrétariat à la condition féminine (2011). D’égal(e) à égaux: pour la promotion de rapports égalitaires entre filles et garçons dans les services de garde éducatifs, Guide d’accompagnement, Québec: Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine.