This interview with Regina F. Lark, Ph.D., is part of the TEDxFolsom Reimagine Series, showcasing global changemakers, innovators, and thought-leaders who will speak at the upcoming TEDxFolsom event.
Share with us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to apply to speak at TEDxFolsom?
When I took my first women’s history class at 30 years old, it blew my mind to learn how often what we believe to be individual problems turn out to be systemic issues. Feminism was so life-changing I decided to pursue a Ph.D. and teach in women’s studies, manage UCLA’s women’s studies doctoral program, and run their center for feminist research. Even after leaving academia, a feminist lens continues to fundamentally inform the work I do in organizational and household management.
I began professionally helping people declutter and organize their homes after clearing and organizing the crowded kitchen of a friend in 2008. There, I found a compelling intersection between gender disparity and household management that created unnecessary despair for the women I worked with. My clients are mostly women between the ages of 40 and 70 who struggle with executive dysfunction — put simply, the way our brain is wired to perform tasks. Executive functioning is what we use to complete everyday household tasks like laundry, scheduling, and tidying. But some people have conditions, such as ADHD, that affect their executive functioning and create more difficulty with these kinds of menial organizational tasks. Nevertheless, these women who struggle with executive functioning often talk about their relationship to clutter in the house and how they feel ashamed and guilty as if they are supposed to automatically know how to take care of it all just because they are women.
Without giving away too much – Can you provide a short summary of what your topic for Reimagine is about?
What if more people saw the work of household management through the lens of the brain instead of the genitals? It’s time we updated our old-fashioned beliefs about “women’s work” to create a more equitable division of physical and emotional labor in the household. I want us to reimagine a household where gender equity prevails.
What was your inspiration or reflection point to generate this idea worth spreading?
As an organizing and productivity specialist, I have worked with hundreds of women who just don’t know why they struggle to keep up with the 100s of daily tasks (like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and picking up socks, etc.) that women are expected to do. They feel like they are failing as women, unable to fulfill basic duties that should come to them naturally. But I’ve discovered that there’s nothing inherently “womanly” about “women’s work.” Work is work, whether it’s done in the office or the household, and anyone — irrespective of gender — can learn better strategies for delegating household management.
What are you looking forward to most with your talk?
The opportunity to engage people to think differently about household management and so-called ‘woman’s work.’
How do you foresee your TEDxFolsom talk impacting viewers both locally and globally?
Say the phrase, “a man’s work” and rarely does vacuuming come to mind. Not so on the opposite spectrum – where the phrase, “a woman’s work” has instant understanding at both the local and global level.
I want female viewers to experience a lightbulb moment when they ask themselves, “why the hell am I doing so much all the damn time?”
For male viewers – wow – I want to them to ask themselves, “why the hell am I doing so little?” And embrace the idea of becoming a caregiver and partner in the home, and find strength, comfort, and solidarity when thy get behind the idea of experiencing gender equity at home.
If there is one nugget of information you want someone to walk away with that view’s your TEDx Talk, what would that be?
That there is nothing womanly about woman’s work. It’s just work that has to get done.
What’s the best way for people to reach out to you to learn more about your TEDx talk topic?