Each year, insured.com uses stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to calculate the monetary value of a dad’s unpaid labor. The aim is to arrive at an exact amount that helps contextualize the household duties typically associated with dads. This year, insure.com’s dad value hit an all-time high of, wait for it, $26,125, an increase of six percent from 2016 and 28 percent from when the project began in 2011. This might feel like a big moment of dads finally getting their due as supportive, present parents. But it becomes a lot less impressive once compared to insured.com’s evaluation of moms, whose worth was most recently valued at $67,619.
Why is there such a massive gap between the value of dads and moms? A deeper dive into the value assigned shows it has a lot to do with the perception of what “type” of unpaid labor both are doing as parents. Fathers are mostly listed as doing manual labor, such as barbecuing, car maintenance, and helping with homework, while moms are assumed to do the work that requires emotional intelligence and intellect. Thus, mom would hypothetically earn significantly higher wages in order to meet the demands of her labor.
While these numbers are interesting, and we’re all for moms being given their due for their massive contributions as caregivers, they show an underlying assumption about the imbalance of parenting. Yes, this comes from insure.com, which is not a benchmark of data-driven surveys. But it proves that fathers are still widely seen as the one who does the non-parenting activities instead of an equal parenting partner. This unspoken perception is unfortunate and shows that even as fathers are taking a more active role as parents, they still are not expected to be doing their fair share. Hopefully, as time goes on, we will shake off these outdated, lazy ideas of the limited ways that dads contribute as parents.