Exploring The Household Handicap with MullenLowe's Shaun Stripling
Shaun Stripling, Global Director, Frank About Women and Chief Strategy Officer, MullenLowe U.S. Winston-Salem, spoke at the prestigious conference on the subject of "Exploring the Household Handicap" and the equitable distribution of household management.
Stripling raised the question if women feel more overwhelmed than men in the workplace. Historically, prior to entering the mainstream workforce in the 50-60’s, women were at the helm of every household - or as she considered them, the CEO’s of the home. But what happened when they began working outside of the home? Yes, they added to the family resources, but they also added value to the GDP. What happened to all of that work women managed, both in and surrounding the home? Did the husbands/spouses/partners intuitively step up and take on half of the home “production”?
There is learned domestic behaviour that has not been typically taught or reinforced with young boys. Family leave for the birth of a child, when offered, is only for women, setting the course for inequitable distribution of responsibility. Past generations leveraged the delineation between what was considered women’s work and everything else. Is the same thought process apparent today?
For both men and women, stereotypical images of gender-biased roles throughout all forms of media and entertainment have continued to propagate a culture of gender divide. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. And unfortunately, a recent McKinsey study revealed that for each hour of TV a young girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life. Conversely, for each hour of TV a young boy watches, the more sexist his views become.
Stripling explored the gender gap in household management workload (both physical and mental), corporate biases (overt or latent) regarding hiring and promoting moms vs. dads, and the very real impact the biases created for career advancement and compensation. She challenged the collective conscience (or unconscious, as the case may be) to address the power of imagery; imagery that can serve to either support equality or continue the divide. She also demonstrated the importance of showing women in diverse roles, from leadership to physically demanding - and everything in-between. As she indicated, it is equally as important to create powerful positive themes regarding men taking on more ownership and success in household duties. She intimated the necessity of championing anyone who creates stability outside of work, so that employers can more easily embrace parents, vs. embracing dads and scrutinising moms.
Finally, Stripling strongly reaffirmed that it is time we as a culture accept responsibility for the fact that content can shape our future rather than merely reflect the present.