Gender Parity in the Modern Home

At SheMD, we highly believe that to achieve equality in the workplace - whether that is the hospital, clinic or boardroom - we have to achieve equality at home. Dr. Huma Farid joins us today to discuss what gender parity in the modern home looks like, or does NOT look like, and how that lack of equality at home can lead to a stalling career and marriage. As #womeninmedicine, we need to push for continued gender parity in our homes, which will allow us to achieve better gender equity in our workplaces as well.

Half-empty sippy cups and a bottle of bubbles crowd my dining room table; magnetic tiles and toy construction vehicles cover every inch of free space on my kitchen floor. I stare impassively at the mess, as though the force of my glare could magically resolve the clutter. Sadly, unlike Mrs. Weasley, there are no housekeeping charms to help me, and I resign myself to roping my children into cleaning up before we leave the house tomorrow morning. I cannot spare the energy required to pick up after my toddlers today, because I need to focus on my academic research and writing projects, which have clearly taken a second seat.

I am an obstetrician/gynecologist at an academic tertiary care hospital, but for the past four years, I have spent the vast majority of my time gestating, breastfeeding, and parenting rather than writing grants or research proposals. My career has effectively stalled. Between the demands of a full time job as an obstetrician/gynecologist, a second full time job being a mother, and a third full time job trying to figure out where, how and when to pump, I found myself stressed and overwhelmed.

I also found myself simmering with anger at my husband. I felt angry when I cooked dinner for the next night at 9pm while he watched television. I felt angry when I came home from a busy day on labor and delivery to a sink full of dirty dishes and bottles. I felt angry each time I washed the pump parts that I used to extract nourishment from my body to feed our child for over a year. I felt angry as I packed my children’s lunches daily and got them ready for daycare while my husband stayed in bed until 20 minutes before he had to leave for work.

Anger became the core of our relationship--my anger at him for being oblivious and not helping, and his anger at me for ignoring him.

When I argued that I didn’t spend time with him because I was too tired between work, taking care of the house, and taking care of the kids, his response was always that he helped me as much as he could, and that he never said no when I asked him to do something. He didn’t grasp the mental load I carried daily--the list of tasks running through my head that kept the house running and our children’s needs met. When I did ask him to do something, I felt like a chief resident with a delinquent intern as I checked and double checked that he truly had accomplished the tasks.

This lack of initiative was a nearly universal relationship th