Skip to main content

Mother like Mothers and Work like Fathers

Annie McConnon1 · Allegra J. Midgette2,3 · Clare Conry‑Murray1
Accepted: 12 October 2021
© The Author(s) 2021
Many U.S. women report balancing competing demands for labor within the family and the workplace. Prior research has found that young adult heterosexual U.S. women are still anticipating doing the majority of their future family’s childcare and housework, though they hold more progressive gender role attitudes than in the past. The aim of the present study was
to investigate the assumptions of 176 heterosexual college students in the U.S. (M age = 20.57, 88.64% European American, 51.70% ciswomen, 48.30% cismen) about how childcare and housework should be balanced in the context of work responsibilities. Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with two items about working mothers and childcare
and working fathers and household care, and provided open-ended responses to explain their justifications for their rating. Open-ended responses were thematically coded. Results revealed that most participants wanted mothers to have the choice to work but considered childcare a limiting problem that (primarily) mothers should solve. Similarly, participants believed
that working full-time did not excuse a husband from helping with chores, however they did not express concerns with the term “helping” which implies that the husband would not hold any primary responsibility. Overall, the findings suggest the importance for educational and policy-making interventions and future research to highlight practices that support and
encourage the role of men in addressing childcare and household needs.

Many women report having to balance competing demands for care labor within the family and paid labor within the workplace (Perry-Jenkins et al., 2007; Shockley et al., 2021). This
dual demand for labor has direct consequences for women’s involvement in the labor force (Christnacht & Sullivan, 2020), women’s adjustment to becoming new parents (Perry‐Jenkins
et al., 2007), women’s rates of depression (Perry‐Jenkins et al., 2007), marital satisfaction (Li et al., 2020), women’s time poverty (Hyde et al., 2020), and women’s career aspirations
(Drinkwater et al., 2008). For instance, married women in the United States in heterosexual relationships who lost access to childcare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
were more likely to take on childcare duties while also working remotely, and this dual labor was associated with a negative impact on women’s well-being as well as their career
performance (Collins et al., 2020; Shockley et al., 2021). Moreover, heterosexual emerging adult women, many of whom grew up observing their mothers taking on this double
burden (Drinkwater et al., 2008), also report expecting an unequal and gendered division in their future households (Askari et al., 2010; Dernberger & Pepin, 2020; Fetterolf &
Eagly, 2011). However, recent research has found that this expectation occurs despite emerging adults’ holding egalitarian attitudes (Croft et al., 2020).   Read More……