Motherhood, employment, and the dynamics of women’s gender attitudes

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

December 15, 2017


This article presents an investigation of the dynamics of women's gender attitudes from the perspective of women's conflicting employment and child-rearing responsibilities. It examines the independent and joint effects of motherhood and employment on gender attitudes using combined data from the British Household Panel Survey and the Understanding Society panel study. The results of fixed effects models show no evidence supporting a direct influence of either motherhood or employment on women's attitudes toward a traditional division of labor. However, changes in attitudes are observed when motherhood and employment statuses are considered jointly. Specifically, women are less traditional after the transition to motherhood than before only if motherhood is combined with full-time employment. By contrast, women are more traditional after the transition to motherhood than before only if motherhood coincides with their withdrawal from the labor force. These associations remain robust after considering feedback from earlier attitudes. All the findings suggest that the emergence and realization of incompatibility between women's employment and child-rearing responsibilities reshape women's gender attitudes during the transition to motherhood.

Published in

Gender and Society

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 31 , p.751 -776





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