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Maternal employment and gender role attitudes: dissonance among British men and women in the transition to parenthood


  • Pia Schober
  • Jacqueline Scott


This study examines how changes in gender role attitudes of couples after childbirth relate to women’s paid work and the type of childcare used. Identifying attitude-practice dissonances matters because how they get resolved influences mothers’ future employment. Previous research examined changes in women’s attitudes and employment, or spouses’ adaptations to each others’ attitudes. This is extended by considering how women and men in couples simultaneously adapt to parenthood in terms of attitude and behavioural changes and by exploring indirect effects of economic constraints. Structural equation models and regression analysis based on the British Household Panel Survey (1991-2007) are applied. The results suggest that less traditional attitudes among women and men are more likely in couples where women’s postnatal labour market participation and the use of formal childcare contradict their traditional prenatal attitudes. Women’s prenatal earnings have an indirect effect on attitude change of both partners through incentives for maternal employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Pia Schober & Jacqueline Scott, 2012. "Maternal employment and gender role attitudes: dissonance among British men and women in the transition to parenthood," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 26(3), pages 514-530, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:woemps:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:514-530

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deborah Smeaton, 2006. "Work return rates after childbirth in the UK - trends, determinants and implications: a comparison of cohorts born in 1958 and 1970," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 20(1), pages 5-25, March.
    2. Ann Berrington & Yongjian Hu & Peter W. F. Smith & Patrick Sturgis, 2008. "A graphical chain model for reciprocal relationships between women's gender role attitudes and labour force participation," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(1), pages 89-108, January.
    3. Vanessa Gash, 2008. "Preference or constraint? Part-time workers' transitions in Denmark, France and the United Kingdom," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 22(4), pages 655-674, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hannah Zagel, 2015. "Understanding Differences in Labour Market Attachment of Single Mothers in Great Britain and West Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 773, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. repec:dem:demres:v:40:y:2019:i:39 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pia S. Schober & Gundula Zoch, 2015. "Change in the Gender Division of Domestic Work after Mummy or Daddy Took Leave: An Examination of Alternative Explanations," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 803, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Elena Grinza & Francesco Devicienti & Mariacristina Rossi & Davide Vannoni, 2017. "How Entry into Parenthood Shapes Gender Role Attitudes: New Evidence from Longitudinal UK Data," Working papers 042, Department of Economics and Statistics (Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Sociali e Matematico-Statistiche), University of Torino.
    5. Simonetta Longhi & Alita Nandi & Mark Bryan & Sara Connolly & Cigdem Gedikli, 2018. "Unhappiness in unemployment – is it the same for everyone?," Working Papers 2018007, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    6. Pia S. Schober & C. Katharina Spieß, 2014. "Local Day-Care Quality and Maternal Employment: Evidence from East and West Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 649, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Zagel, Hannah, 2015. "Understanding differences in labour market attachment of single mothers in Great Britain and West Germany," Working papers of the ZeS 03/2015, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
    8. Pia S. Schober, 2014. "Daddy Leave: Does It Change the Gender Division of Domestic Work?," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 46, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. J. Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal & José Alberto Molina & Yu Zhu, 2018. "Intergenerational mobility of housework time in the United Kingdom," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 911-937, December.
    10. repec:dem:demres:v:39:y:2018:i:39 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:oup:oxecpp:v:71:y:2019:i:1:p:25-46. is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Platt, Lucinda & Polavieja, Javier, 2016. "Saying and doing gender: intergenerational transmission of attitudes towards the sexual division of labour," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67302, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.


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