How do working life and its interplay with family structures affect men’s and women’s gender role attitudes?
Using fixed effects models and longitudinal data from the British Household Panels Surveys (BHPS) and the follow-up study “Understanding Society” (UKHLS), the current study examines the impact of change in employment status and working conditions on gender role attitudes by simultaneously considering the family structure. A second research question investigates whether employment status and family life interact with one another regarding their influence on gender role attitudes. This study shows that men are more traditional before marriage as well as after separation or divorce, while the same correlation does not seem to exist for women. Moreover, having children affects men’s but not women’s tendencies towards more traditional attitudes. A further important conclusion drawn in this study is that employment status moderates the relationship between children and gender role attitudes: women working full-time develop more egalitarian gender role attitudes if they have additional children while their counterparts who are only working part-time or not working at all become more traditional in the same situation. Regarding occupational circumstances, it turns out that, for men, egalitarianism decreases as income increases; for women, on the other hand, the opposite is the case. Further, job satisfaction affects only the gender role attitudes of women: the higher the job satisfaction is the more egalitarian are their attitudes. In sum, our findings demonstrate that it is essential to consider both family structures and employment circumstances — not to mention their interdependency — to gain a deeper understanding of changes in gender role attitudes of adults.