To mark Father's Day Pat Fitzpatrick tries out dads4daughters – the test every father of daughters needs to take it seems.
I’m a sexist pig these days. That’s according to an online test I just did at www.dads4daughters.uk
As any man can tell you, it’s not that difficult to get called a sexist pig on the internet.
But this test has a chunk of research behind it, and recent events suggest this is a really good time to stand up for science.
Here are my test results.
‘You may strongly believe that men make better surgeons, pilots and politicians.’
‘You have a slight tendency to believe that men are better leaders.’
‘You may strongly believe that men make better scientists.’
That’s awkward. I thought I was Barack Obama. It turns out I’m Donald Trump.
I’m not sure of the rationale behind these tests. If they were designed by a woman, there’s every chance they’re faulty, because as we know, the ladies haven’t a clue when it comes to science.
(I’m messing! Seriously, there’s no need to go ballistic on Twitter.)
I do know that dads4daughters has an agenda.
The whole purpose is to expose unconscious gender bias and challenge Dads to create a more equal workplace environment for their daughters.
It was always going to find me guilty.
But this is my daughter’s future we’re talking about, so I’m not going to dismiss the findings with a shrug. I need to sort out some things in my mind.
Do I have different aspirations for my daughter because she’s a girl?
Is there any point in having plans for your kids growing up, when most people can’t tell what’s going to happen next year? And am I really just Donald Trump with a beard?
I know I’ve been conditioned to think that men and women have different capabilities.
All the right-on aspirations in the world can’t overcome the fact that I grew up watching The Brady Bunch.
The only female I saw with a job outside the home was Wonder Woman. And any admiration there was based on Lynda Carter’s outfit, even if it looked like she was wearing a nappy.
I would like to think I managed to overcome my upbringing.
Like most Dads these days, I have notions about myself.
I see myself as largely Swedish, perhaps an architect, living in a cool apartment in Malmo, taking a career-break to mind my child, while my outlandishly hot wife goes back to work.
She’s an architect too, and I’ve no problem that she earns more than me.
It is entirely fictitious, except for the outlandishly hot wife bit. (Hi honey!)
Back in the real world, I’m not over the moon that my hot wife earns more than me. I’m kind of embarrassed by it.
And when I’m out with the kids on the weekday afternoon I take off to mind them, I can almost hear people saying, “He must have lost his job.” It’s the kind of thing I’d think to myself.
The truth is, I’m a bit old-school on the gender thing.
So if nothing else, this test is a reality check.
I need to actively make sure I treat my son and daughter the same.
She should feel that nothing is out of bounds in terms of career; he should think it’s OK to stay at home with the kids.
That said, I’m not sure if there is much I can do to alter the way they turn out. For one thing, my four-year-old daughter looks like she has been programmed by the people who wrote Frozen.
"She is basically a flurry of pink and kindness and posing in front of the mirror. I found her lying on the ground in the living room the other day.
Me: “Why are you lying on the ground?”
Her: “I’m waiting for a prince to come and save me with an act of true love.”
If the feminists get wind of this, they’ll be marching up and down outside our house with banners saying, “Save the little girl from patriarchy” and “Her Dad’s a Sexist Pig, according to an online test.”
Seriously, this one isn’t on me or my wife.
We gave Freda access to dolls, diggers and dinosaurs when she was small. She chose dolls.
Her little brother Joe is a little bit more complicated. Sometimes he explodes in a burst of testosterone and runs into the wall; another time you might find him painting his nails.
I honestly don’t know if this means anything.
Like most parents, I find myself trying to extrapolate their little personalities out into adulthood, to see if they will flourish or end up in jail.
That’s more to do with my anxiety than their futures. And anyway, I don’t even know what I really want for them.
I know what I don’t want for them.
I don’t want them to be the kids they are trying to create on Dads4Daughters.
The movement is partially inspired by the HeForShe initiative, which encourages fathers to pledge themselves to greater equality in the workplace, in order to help their daughters down the road. So far, so good.
Except the initiative is also supported by large financial institutions in the City of London.
I wouldn’t want that crowd sponsoring my socks.
These things appeal to parents who tell their kids they don’t care what they do in life, as long as they earn over 300 grand and fly business class to New Zealand. In other words, dear kids, be like Mom and Dad.
It comes from the same place as the latest trend for business leaders in the States, who have taken to writing open letters to their kids on LinkedIn.
(Or they get a PA to write if for them, because who has the time to look after your own kids, when you are busy trying to exploit other people’s kids in China.)
These letters, part of the Leaders and Daughters Campaign, tell the girls that they can be anything they want, that they can have it all.
Anyone, male or female, struggling to find the time to focus on work and kids, will know this just isn’t true. It’s a recipe for stress, and spending a fortune on presents.
(“Why do you spend all your time at work, Daddy?” “So I can afford to buy you a real helicopter and put a lid on my guilt.”)
That’s no way to live. I won’t be joining the Dads4Daughters campaign; and not just because they implied I’m a sexist pig. In fact, I won’t be offering any career advice to my kids, at least not yet.
From what I can make out, the only work available in 20 years’ time will be for people who know how to fix Chinese robots. That wouldn’t be for everybody.
I know it sounds like the kind of thing you’d say after a bottle of wine, but the only thing I want for my kids right now is that they make the friends they want to make.
And they never discover that the internet told their old man he was like Donald Trump.
HOW THE TEST WORKS
A word pops up on the screen in dark black and you have a few seconds to decide if this refers to a male or female. This is straightforward - the words include He, She, Daughter, Son, Man, Woman.
What complicates matters is that other words are interspersed on the screen in feint grey, words such as Intelligent, Receptionist, Doctor, Babysitter etc. It doesn’t help that you have about two seconds to decide on your male/female choice for each word.
Particularly since my three-year-old son, who I clearly believe would make an excellent surgeon, pilot or politician, would also make an excellent town crier, judging by his voice at 3am, eight hours before I tried out the test.
Let’s just say my reactions weren’t up to much.
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