'Kinkeeping' and female leadership; strengths within and beyond the workplace

Do great kinkeepers make great leaders? We take a look at the role of kinkeeping in boosting female leader representation.

What is Kinkeeping? 

Kinkeeping is a form of ‘emotional labour’ in domestic and family settings, which maintains and strengthens familial ties.  

The term was first defined in 1985 by Sociologist Carolyn Rosenthal in her article, "Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor". Kinkeepers are described by psychologist Dawn Braithwaite as ‘family members who help enable and assist family communication, plan family gatherings, and help the family keep in touch.’ 

Crucially, Kinkeeping is recognised as a practice overwhelmingly shouldered by women, often mothers and head female figures within a household. 

Kinkeeping is often considered ‘invisible work’ and analogised by Advicegirl on Tiktok using the metaphor of theatre. At the end of a play, she explains, you clap for the actors, and not for the countless designers, stage managers and more, who made it happen. 

Because of its ‘invisibility’, Kinkeeping is seldom celebrated, and the associated mental load can become a source of stress for many women. That’s why it’s crucial for both households and employers to support women and Kinkeepers to counteract the impact. 

QA Marketing manager Jaskiren Kooner outlined some ways to support the integration of Kinkeeping into professional life: 

‘It can be challenging to balance parenthood as well as having a career. 

“I’m in a parenting partnership, where we very much split the household and parenting duties 50/50. I think that’s essential for me to give 100% dedication to my role, particularly if I want to progress in my career. I feel that women who don’t have that support would find it very difficult. 

“It’s important that my line managers and the organisation I work for offer me the flexibility to juggle parenthood. For example, being able to go on the school run and put my ‘out of office’ on. I feel that I’ve been really supported in that respect.” 

It’s important to note that Kinkeeping doesn’t exist in opposition to career. Far from it. 

Kinkeeping is not simply a burden hampering women, it’s also a sign of their strengths and aptitudes. 

Putting a name to this long-ignored phenomenon helps us to recognise the amount of organisation, communication, memorization, emotional intelligence, time and effort that Kinkeepers display in everyday life.  

Which begs the question; if women are such great Kinkeepers, where else can they apply these superpowers?  

What does Kinkeeping have to do with work? 

Let’s move from the household to the office. Look at those same skills: Emotional intelligence, time management. Here, too, they are of obviously high value, particularly at management level. 

We spoke to QA Marketing Manager Mary Sansom, who summed up the impact of Kinkeepers at work: 

“I’ve worked with some fantastic female leaders over my career. It’s a generalisation, but if I think about the commonalities between them, there are some core things that are recurring. 

“One is that women are great multitaskers. Traditionally, women in their home life juggle multiple priorities, whether that’s child drop-off, managing a social calendar or their family.  

“They have lots of things to spin at once, and actually bringing that into the workplace and being able to handle multiple different projects at once is clearly a great benefit and a great leadership skill.” 

Mary also highlighted that these skills are often underpinned by a level of emotional intelligence often attributable to women. 

Emotional intelligence is evidenced in Kinkeepers ability to understand and respond to the needs of others, which is not limited to children in their care. 

Forbes reported that in EQ assessments ‘women tend to score higher than men in areas of empathy, interpersonal relationships and social responsibility’. 

This exact sensitivity enables managers to mediate conflict, to enhance team’s morale, to give difficult feedback in a constructive and encouraging way, and to cultivate a culture of inclusion. All of which boost performance and business success. 

To sum up, we’ll use the words of QA Design team manager Amanda Haynes on female leadership: 

“‘I think women make great leaders because by our nature we grow up far quicker and far younger. We take a natural nurturing role. So, I believe women make better leaders because we are more fully rounded in life in general and can transfer that into the workplace.” 

Boosting female representation in leadership roles

We’ve seen that women are great Kinkeepers for a reason. What’s more, those reasons may also make them the ideal professionals to manage your teams. 

It’s not just about enhancing the experience of your employees, either. According to ‘When women hold more executive leadership positions, their companies are more profitable. Companies in the top-quartile for Gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform the national average.’ 

Yet, widespread female representation at executive level simply isn’t a reality, particularly in industries like tech. 

So, what can we do? 

Ways to boost female representation within leadership start here, with QA leadership and management training opportunities. 

Within your organisation, power up the progression of female talent in every specialism, even homing in on senior leadership skills with our range of workplace learning and apprenticeship programmes. 

Take the next step toward celebrating the kinkeepers within your organisation. Reach out today to discover how you can find an apprenticeship programme, or how your organisation can recruit talented tech apprentices. 


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