How Your 'Bad Mother' Research Sausage Gets MadeS

Regular Jezebel readers know that we often cover (and mock) studies that enforce gender stereotypes, even if the data seems legit, because it's incredibly frustrating to read the same old stories over and over about how "Facebook Makes Women Hate Their Bodies!" and so on. It's not that we're "science-shaming;" it's that way too often gender bias becomes head-bangingly clear once you take a closer look.

Rachel Walden at Our Bodies Our Blog has an excellent takedown of a press release entitled "Working moms spend less time daily on kids' diet, exercise, study finds." From the release:

When it comes to cooking, grocery shopping and playing with children, American moms with full-time jobs spend roughly three-and-half fewer hours per day on these and other chores related to their children's diet and exercise compared to stay-at-home and unemployed mothers." Overall, according to the full paper, they found that "The average number of total minutes per day spent with children is 410 min for non-working mothers and 277 min for working mothers.

Hmmm, wonder what all the dads are up to? As it turns out: "Employed fathers devote just 13 minutes daily to [chores related to children's diet and exercise] and non-working fathers contribute 41 minutes."

Which is way, way less than both non-working and working mothers! But, as Walden points out, the headline ignores the father's role and focuses on how the mother is fucking up her kids, stating in the paper's abstract that the findings "suggest plausible mechanisms for the association between maternal employment and childhood obesity."

Ladies: if you're gainfully employed, your kid will get called "fatty" on the playground. Quit your jobs.

As Walden explains:

Framing the participation of fathers as "offsetting" behavior just emphasizes the biased notion that fathers are naturally secondary players in child care. Yes, we may know from the data that fathers spend less time than mothers on household work and child care. But the researchers' interpretation of the data suggests and accepts that any potentially adverse events in the children's health are the result of how working mothers are spending their time. They fail to point to another possible conclusion: that perhaps fathers lack of participation in children's eating and exercise activities may affect the children's health.

One of the most frustrating aspects of studies like these is how quickly they're shared around the internet, from personal blog to big blog to, finally, a newspaper article, thus reinforcing hurtful stereotypes that aren't even necessarily correct. Next time research makes you feel bad about your career/lifestyle/dating/whatever choices, take a closer look.

Image via Masalski Maksim/Shutterstock.

Dear Researchers, Your Gender Bias is Showing [Our Bodies Our Blog]