Amanda S. sent in a great example of the assumption that only women care for children, this one from a government agency. The photograph is of a section of the California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual. It specifies that one might want to give a little bit of extra street-crossing time to older people, disabled people, and “women with young children” (apparently dads are never in public with their children… or else they hurry those slowpokes right along):
What I like about this example, in particular, is that it shows that gendered assumptions about parenting (mostly the assumption that women do it) isn’t just something that advertisers and other cultural producers do, it is also reflected in official government business. And, while this mistake doesn’t have any concrete consequences, if it is easy for this sort of thing to go unnoticed in this context, you could imagine it going unnoticed in materials that do, in fact, affect public policy.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.