Should chores be gender neutral?

Last week the blogosphere was ablaze with chatter about a Canadian couple who was choosing to keep the gender of their baby a secret.

All the hoopla about the boy-girl bias that’s allegedly still rampant out there got me thinking. I’ve got two young boys; to what extent do I perpetuate gender bias unwittingly in the way I do things around the house, like dole out chores?

My hypothesis
Because I have two boys, I don’t really have much gender bias going on. I consider myself to be pretty equal opportunity when it comes to sharing the wealth of household chores.

I drew up a list of routine household chores and identified the primary person responsible for said chore. When chores were shared, I noted which family members shared responsibility.

The results

A closer look at my own habits revealed that I may not be as progressive as I think I am. This is what the chart looks like in our house:

As you can see, I am not only carrying a disproportionate load, but I tend to stick to the more traditionally “female” chores, like making meals and cleaning house, while my husband handles more “male” tasks like paying the bills. And just to clarify, I work full-time.

To be honest, I’m not really sure how to feel about the data.

I am proud of myself for passing on bed-making techniques to my boys. I hope that pays dividends for their wives later in life. Ditto on the general night-time clean up routines. As they get older, I will certainly include them in “female” chores like washing the dishes, vacuuming, and doing the laundry. I just don’t right now because they’re not really capable.

As for the rest of the division of labor, I am not terribly bothered by it. Gar focuses on what he does well, and I do the same. (I’ll be honest, I’d rather poke my eye out with a hot stick than deal with bills and mail).

But maybe I should be more bothered by it than I am. Even though I plan on including my boys in “female” housework when they are older, are we showing them now what roles they should really play when they are older? Mimicry is pretty powerful.

What do you think? Should my husband and I do a better job of gender-neutralizing the chores? Are we sending subliminal messages to our boys unwittingly?