A new study published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary & Cultural Psychology has found that women derive more satisfaction than men from basic childcare duties such as changing diapers. In addition, the study found that men were far less likely than women to take advantage of paid paternity leave in order to stay home with newborn children.
Every once in a while you read about a new “study” that comes to conclusions that are so obvious, you can’t believe anyone thought they needed a study to figure it out. Likewise, I frequently encounter studies in which liberal academics appear to be shocked to learn that there are differences between men and women. The tone of these articles always seems to be: Differences between men and women? No! What evil in our society could have caused such a thing!
The latest such study tracked how male college professors use their “paternity leave.” (In the liberal utopia of higher-ed, fathers actually get paid leave just like new mothers, oftentimes.) However, only about one in ten fathers actually takes advantage of the leave time. And those who do tend to work on writing or research, rather than spending their time tending the new baby. Surprise conclusion? In other words, men don’t change as many diapers as women.
Most surprising of all, for the authors of the study, was their finding that women actually derive a high sense of “satisfaction” from taking care of new babies, and even doing rather less pleasant jobs, such as changing diapers. Bloomberg Businessweek reports details:
The writers, Steven Rhoads of the University of Virginia and his son, Christopher Rhoads, of the University of Connecticut, studied a sample of 181 married, heterosexual, tenure-track professors all of whom had children under two and taught at schools with parental-leave policies. While 69 percent of the women in the sample took post-birth parental leave, only 12 percent of the men took advantage of the available leave—even though it was paid. They also learned that the male professors who did so performed significantly less child care relative to their spouses. Worse yet, they report that male tenure-track professors may be abusing paternity leave by using the time to complete research or publish papers, an activity that enhances their careers while putting their female colleagues at a disadvantage. One female participant quoted in the study put it this way: “If women and men are both granted parental leaves and women recover/nurse/do primary care and men do some care and finish articles, there’s a problem.”
The Rhoads’ findings may come as a shock to supporters of gender equality. Although it is targeted at men, paternity leave is also thought to improve the lot of women… Steven Rhoads says he was interested in putting these notions to the test among university professors because he thought young men and women in academia “would be the most progressive on gender roles.”
Not quite. As the authors of the paper state: “Most of the academics in our study said they believe that husbands and wives should share equally, but almost none did so.” To be precise, only three men out of 109 reported that they performed half the child-care work. One possible explanation, according to the father-and-son duo, is that women derive a higher enjoyment of many of the activities involved in the care of small children. The Rhoads asked the men and women to report their level of enjoyment in performing 25 different tasks—everything from playing with the baby to washing his clothes. On almost every count, women said they experienced a higher level of satisfaction. Steven Rhoads admits the discovery that mothers enjoy changing diapers was, to his own mind, the most surprising aspect of his findings. “It shows you gender roles go pretty deep,” he says…
For most of us, it doesn’t come as any surprise that women, on average, experience “a higher level of satisfaction” than men when taking care of new babies. It’s just nature and common sense. And no matter how many social engineering projects the liberal elite undertake with a view toward eradicating this gender “problem”–no matter how many times they give little boys dolls to play with, or little girls trucks and legos–they aren’t going to be able to re-wire the human brain.
Nor are the liberal elite ever going to convince me that forcing men and women to be exactly the same would be a good thing for society–even if such a thing were possible.
By the way, why is it that liberals are so in love with “diversity”–except when it comes to the sexes? They don’t simply want men and women to have equal opportunity; they actually want men and women to be and behave exactly the same.
It’s sad that academic culture is so adversarial when it comes to gender issues. For example, consider the woman in this study who said “there’s a problem” if men are taking advantage of paternity leave to get ahead at work. Presumably, she means that it might give men a competitive edge over women in the workplace.
What these academic elites haven’t figured out is that men and women are designed to be cooperative and complimentary–not adversarial. In my own family, my wife and I split childcare and housework, sure. In addition, both of us do work outside the home. But I would never pretend that it’s an even split, or that either of us would want it to be. She focuses more on the home and the kids than I do; I focus more on earning a living. Every couple has to find what works for them, I suppose. But I think our elite professional culture sets ludicrous expectations for men when it comes to childcare. These are expectations that, for reasons that have to do with nature and economics, men are never ever going to meet.
For radical feminists, a woman’s happiness and satisfaction is less important than maintaining a competitive edge over men–her sexual “adversaries” in the workplace. Sounds like a recipe for misery to me. Wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge that men and women have natural differences and proclivities and that, on the balance, it’s best to let men and women simply be themselves? To let men and women focus more on what brings them “satisfaction”–whatever that may be?
Gender difference: that’s one kind of “diversity” worth celebrating.
Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.
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(Image: An Egyptian Fellah Woman with her Baby, by Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann – photo by Daderot / Wikimedia Commons)