Home Economics for Gender Justice? A Case for Gender-Differentiated Caregiving Education

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):551-565 (2017)
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Recent calls for reinstituting mandatory home economics education have emphasized its potential to advance gender egalitarian aims. The thought is that, because women’s disproportionate performance of caregiving and household labor is partially caused by gender socialization that better prepares women than men for such work, we can disrupt gender inegalitarian work distributions by preparing everyone for the sort of work in question. The curricula envisioned in these calls are gender-neutral, in the sense that they recommend identical educational interventions for all genders. By exploiting a parallel between gender-neutral educational policies and gender-neutral family leave policies, we argue first that gender-neutral home economics instruction is unlikely to advance gender egalitarian aims, and may in fact reinforce the very outcomes it is meant to disrupt. However, we further argue that a more radical home economics curriculum could avoid these difficulties. To the extent that we value educational interventions as a possible means for advancing gender egalitarian aims, we have good reason to seriously consider adopting a gender non-neutral program in which all and only boys receive mandatory caregiving instruction.



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Author Profiles

Jeff Behrends
Harvard University
Gina Schouten
Harvard University

Citations of this work

Justice, autonomy and care: symposium on Asha Bhandary’s freedom to care: liberalism, dependency care and justice.Amy Mullin - 2022 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 25 (6):809-815.

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References found in this work

Justice, Gender and the Family.Susan Moller Okin - 1989 - Hypatia 8 (1):209-214.
The Gender Revolution: Uneven and Stalled.Paula England - 2010 - Gender and Society 24 (2):149-166.
Equality-Promoting Parental Leave.Anca Gheaus & Ingrid Robeyns - 2011 - Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (2):173-191.
Gender Justice.Anca Gheaus - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (1):1-25.

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