IN THE SPOTLIGHT
“Having It All” Plus “Doing It All”
Carol Greider was folding laundry at 5 one morning last October when the phone rang. After she hung up, she walked upstairs to rouse her two children.
As she told CNN, this is how she woke them: “I said, ‘By the way, I just won the Nobel Prize. You can go back to sleep now.’”
Greider, a molecular biologist at Johns Hopkins University, shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine with two other scientists. Four days later, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. “I bet he wasn’t folding laundry,” she later told The Washington Post.
Neither Greider nor the president is an average person. But Greider could be seen as an everywoman, symbolizing those who balance burdens of work and home and make sacrifices men aren’t generally expected to make.
That’s one implication of research by Bernadette Park, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado. Many studies have found that even as women have succeeded in historically male-dominated fields, they have not enjoyed a corresponding reduction in domestic work.
The research of Park and her colleagues helps to explain why.
Men and women may see their work and home lives as egalitarian. But how they act often differs from what they say they feel.
Even with their strides in the job market, many women still must, to some degree, choose career or family, Park says. “Having both is much more difficult for women than it is for men,” she adds.
One reason: Women are expected to perform household and family chores to a greater degree than are men, even when men and women are under equal job stress. These attitudes and expectations, Park shows, can be measured and compared.
Park and her colleagues measure the perceived “warmth” and “competence” of men and women. These perceived traits are a “subjective” gauge of gender perception. She and her colleagues compared the results of a subjective questionnaire to those of an “objective” questionnaire—one that asked about expected behaviors (rather than traits) of men vs. women.
Measuring people’s expectations gives a more candid picture of their deeply held beliefs, Park suggests.
Reprinted with permission from Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine. Click on this link to read the rest of the story.
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