The boy-girl factor: gender role attitudes and the impact of entry into parenthood

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 21, 2015


This paper investigates the impact of entry into parenthood on gender
role attitudes. Considering a sample of British men and women in their
childbearing age (taken from the British Household Panel Survey and
Understanding Society), we measure gender equality beliefs on four
attitudinal statements consistent with the literature, rated on a
five-point scale. Firstly, we exploit the panel features of the survey
to analyse the direct effect of entry into parenthood on gender role
attitudes. Our results underline that the change in attitudes is
explained only to a certain extent by socio-economic variables and that
they are often revised following certain life course experiences. In
line with previous studies, women tend to become more conservative after
childbearing, validating the ‘cognitive dissonance’ hypothesis under
which women adapt their beliefs and expectations to their choices and
behaviour. Men, on the contrary, are not found to experience the same
dynamics. Lastly, we investigate the impact of parenting daughters for
both men and women, showing that the event, differently from most of
previous literature, triggers men to become more conservative relative
to parenting a son.





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