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Flipping the stereotype

Role reversals, the gender wage gap, and International Women's Day
JaniceColumn

In our home, we often joke about how my husband and I have an obvious role reversal when it comes to gender stereotypes and what many still consider the norm.

I don't do laundry regularly and when I stain a shirt (or my favourite hockey jersey), I leave it entirely up to my husband to fix. He vacuums, mops, and keeps our house in order. He makes pizza from scratch, and is in charge of 80 per cent of our meals. He makes school lunches most of the time, and sits with the kids to help them with homework in the evenings.

He also does a lot of the yard work, he's pretty handy, and is in charge of a lot of the stereotypical manly work. He plays video games and can recite NFL, MLB, NHL or NBA statistics as quick as most announcers on TSN.

So what do I do? I juggle a full-time job, and run a small business on the side. I'm the primary earner for our little family. I'm the taxi that gets everyone to and from wherever they have to go. Often, I'm the disciplinarian.

We didn't necessarily plan life this way though - it kind of just happened. Life has a funny way of knowing you better than you know yourself.

When I'm in charge of our house, it often turns into a disaster. One of the last times my husband was gone overnight, I remember him coming home to a kitchen that was piled high with dishes, a living room that needed some serious attention, and kids who did not go to bed at a normal time.

If we lived just a few generations earlier, I think life would have been much more challenging to manoeuvre. I was able to graduate from college, get a job in the line of work I chose, and fill in the gaps as needed to support my family. I've never really felt that being a woman made it harder for me to do the job(s) I do. 

But, I'm not blind to the challenges that exist for many. 

According to Statistics Canada, the gender wage gap continues to be an issue worth monitoring in Canada. A report looking at the gender wage gap between 1998 and 2018 showed promise though.

"In Canada, women in the core working ages of 25 to 54 earned an average of $26.92 per hour in 2018, while their male counterparts earned $31.05," according to Statistics Canada. So, women earned 13.3 per cent less per hour, on average, than men. 

Thankfully, the more recent studies show the gender wage gap has narrowed over time. 

International Women's Day was recognized yesterday. Over the years, I think my view on the day has changed, because I've changed. I personally haven't faced some of the challenges that many women have, and I've seen stereotypes thrown at my stay-at-home husband just as often as I've received them myself.

For me, International Women's Day offers an opportunity to recognize the good in the world, the many accomplishments we've come to see over the years. But, it also acts as a reminder that we do have more work to do.