Episode 4

Published on:

1st Jun 2023

Gender Programming

How does gender programming affect the mental load?

All of this to say that women are taught from an early age that our worth and value comes from the house we keep and the kids we raise. Dads are taught that their job is done as soon as they’ve provided shelter and money for the family. 

What this looks like in Women: 

  • Programmed to think self worth comes from the house we keep and the kids we raise
  • Are taught to be the caretakers (therefore we prioritize this within our do to list)
  • Nice vs Kind: Being nice is when you are polite to people and treat people well. Being kind is when you care about people and show you care.
  • "Being Nice" means we avoid confrontation and is dishonest. Kind would be honest but often uncomfortable
  • Confrontation in relationships feels like it could be the end rather than an opportunity to understand more or accept differences
  • Nice leads to guilt over having our own needs
  • We police our own behavior:
  • Tone of voice (harshest for women of color who battle the “angry black woman” trope in all areas of life)
  • If we ask for something, say at work, we risk being labeled “aggressive”
  • Nice is transactional but “kind” positions us as worthy to give and receive kindness
  • Our time and work is seen as less valuable than when men can contribute - both at home and in the office. 

Women are often seen as multi-taskers that it’s part of their personality

if being a “multi-tasker” was a personality trait, we would see it spread across genders. But as it stands, women are the ones being assigned with this label.

What programming looks like in men:

Men are programmed to believe their worth comes from providing for the family. Once those jobs are complete, they deserve to be cared for. Men are raised to be:

  • Breadwinners
  • Protectors
  • Hold jobs that are more highly valued
  • Disconnected - emotions are weaknesses


  • Women are seen as “right” when it comes to the safety of the (shared) children

In a study, young men supported gender equality in theory. But many held on to traditional ideas about gender roles. They saw men as “breadwinners” or “protectors” and women as “carers” and felt that societal attitudes hadn’t changed dramatically.

One of the ways we reinforce gendered behavior is by focusing on economics. If one partner earns more money than the other, we tell ourselves that the partner who earns less or works fewer hours has more time for household work. Each week, according to Pew, mothers spend nearly twice as long as fathers doing unpaid domestic work. 

Men are simply not taught to look at the things that we look at because remember the mental load is largely anticipating and monitoring the outcomes, the shit end of the process to do and that’s how gender programming contributes to the mental load. 

when women say they're solely charged with handling their child's well-being, including being attentive to their emotions and relationships, it can lead to lower satisfaction with their partner and their life, as well as feelings of emptiness. That included whether the women felt unconditionally loved and accepted as well as how they viewed intimacy with their partners. Even when taking such variables into account, Luthar found that being solely responsible for a child's emotional development was negatively related to women's well-being and satisfaction with their relationship.

Stereotypical expectations about what constitutes women’s and men’s work are not simply the outmoded relics of past generations. Research shows they persist even among LGTBQ families as well as millennial couples.

Should women care less? 

In a reel we were sent it's a lady who, upfront, seems like she's explaining something everyone can get on board with: men aren't taught to "need" things to be clean, so they don't like to clean. It's useless to convince them they should like to clean. But they can be convinced to clean because you care about cleaning and "men will do a lot of stupid shit for the women they love". But then she ends with a zinger: "But women, you should also just care less".

Women shouldn't have to care less. We shouldn't be expected to be the ones that adjust our needs and wants. Men are capable of doing it too and there's plenty of research that shows why they should.

Should men care more?

Going back to gender assumed roles. They don’t have as much emotional skin in the game to care about a tidy home so their care meter is different than ours.

Mentioned in this episode:

Our House Children's Learning Center

Ad Intro

Thriving Lives Fitness

Show artwork for The Mental Load

About the Podcast

The Mental Load
Breaking a generational cycle to create equal households
Two millennial moms explore the mental load. Here’s the deal, we’re the first generation of women who saw both of our parents work outside the home. And, because kids are oblivious to how much work it takes to actually raise them, we naturally assumed that our parents split everything else it took to run our households. Then we grew up, got married and were like what the f***? You know this conversation. You probably have it with your mom friends all the time. It’s your never ending to-do list. The perception that you’re the household manager and keeper of all the stuff and the things. The mental load is so much more complex than delegating out chores and duties or telling women to practice “self care” or “take a day off”. We don’t want a day off, we want husbands who are more “switched on” throughout the day. How do we have this conversation in our household? What systems keep the mental load in place? Why does the mental load even exist? We’re here to explore all of these topics and really dig into the small and large changes that need to happen in order to better support women and therefore, families in America.
And we’re here to bring this conversation to the forefront and help break a generational cycle so that as we raise girls AND boys, they know what it means to truly have an equal household.

About your host

Profile picture for Katlynn Pyatt

Katlynn Pyatt

Hi! I'm Katlynn. I'm a mom of three kids: Hudson, Nora and Willa. I might be biased, but they're pretty amazing kids. I'm super proud of myself for making them! I also have a very loving and supportive husband, Eric.

I'm a marketer from 9-5 but a creative soul all day every day. I love painting with watercolor, sitting on the porch watching the sunrise and meditating. I've always loved to talk, so podcasting is a natural fit for me and over the past year, I've spent a lot of time diving in to mindset and manifestation work. It's changed my outlook on life and made me a lot less high strung.

When I'm not wearing my mom, marketing or spouse hat, I enjoy exercising. Sometimes I'm motivated enough to look like a snack. Other times, I just like eating snacks.