Challenging the Norm

Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

Pip received a PSA Award for research into pay and gender equity last year. She believes that addressing underlying cultural norms about work, care and parenting will assist the struggle for gender equality.

“I realised that the split of unpaid work at home is a big issue, and that the importance of men in providing care and support within whānau is often overlooked."


Pip says research shows physiological changes occur in the brains of carers of babies as a result of taking on caring responsibilities. But because of cultural assumptions, fathers often aren’t given the time to make those connections with their children.

Pip believes there has been a huge shift in what women can do but that hasn’t happened to the same extent for men.

“Women can be engineers, lawyers, doctors. But it’s still not ok for men to take on caring roles.”


Pip lives in Taupō with her husband who works on a dairy farm. She’s been juggling work and study, the stresses of Covid, and being pregnant with her second child since starting her research.

She is working part-time in youth development, while studying remotely towards a Masters in Design with Victoria University. She aims to move into community development to help improve services for women and whānau.

The PSA Award has been a crucial support for her study, enabling her to travel to Wellington to further her research, and to pay her research participants.

She intends to interview a diverse range of working couples about their beliefs and experiences of sharing the unpaid care of their children and home.       


Pip says research shows dads often “do the fun stuff” with their children, so the responsibility for chores like bathing and cooking tends to remain with mums.

Her goal is to better identify the social norms that influence the unequal split of unpaid care, and to co-design approaches to shifting those norms, so fathers can play a bigger caring role in the home.

Find Pip on Instagram @deptfeministfutures for more on her research.


Pip’s PSA Award for gender and pay equity research was sponsored by our union in association with the New Horizons for Women Trust: Hine Kahukura.

In 2021 the PSA is co-sponsoring the PSA Outward Bound Award for women returning to education or training. Applications for the award close on April 15. For further information go to





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