Work & Family

Gender & Society in the Classroom: Work & Family

Organized by: Landon Schnabel, Indiana University, Bloomington
Updated by: Erielle Jones, University of Illinois – Chicago

Articles published in Gender & Society cover a broad array of issues involved in the interplay between work and family, showing how work can affect family and family can affect work.
Family composition has changed and women have joined the workplace in larger numbers, but women are still more likely to leave the workforce due to family demands. Transnational motherhood provides the support some women need to stay in the workforce, but highlights the intersectional nature of gender inequality and has serious implications for both immigrant women and those they leave behind. When women work, there tend to be more progressive gender attitudes operative in the family and less power disparity, but working women still experience competing demands and disproportionate family responsibility. Working fathers experience a fatherhood bonus whereas working mothers experience a motherhood penalty, and occupational segregation is due in part to gendered family norms. Work–family policies can alleviate, or exacerbate, inequity and gendered work and family tensions.
These articles reveal the complexities involved in the relationship between work and family. They provide opportunities to illustrate both the progress that has been made and the persistence of inequity.

Oh, Eunsil, & Eunmi Mun. 2022. “Compensatory Work Devotion: How a Culture of Overwork Shapes Women’s Parental Leave in South Korea.” Gender & Society 36 (4): 552–577.
Despite growing concerns that parental leave policies may reinforce the marginalization of mothers in the labor market and reproduce the gendered division of household labor, few studies examine how women themselves approach and use parental leave. Through 64 in-depth interviews with college-educated Korean mothers, we find that although women’s involvement in family responsibilities increases during leave, they do not reduce their work devotion but reinvent it throughout the leave-taking process. Embedded in the culture of overwork in Korean workplaces, women find it justifiable to use leave only when they are highly committed to work and adjust the length of leave to accommodate workplace demands. Upon returning to work, they try to compensate for their absence by working harder than before, thereby showing that they are more committed than their colleagues. Given this “compensatory” work devotion, women question their own entitlement in the workplace, and some quit when they cannot meet their goal of compensating by doing more than others. This study highlights how the workplace culture shapes women’s work devotion during and after leave.

Hill, Marbella Eboni. 2022. “Do the Marriageable Men want to Protect and Provide? The Expectation of Black Professional Hybrid Masculinity.” Gender & Society 36 (4): 498–524.
Gender ideologies are embedded in intersecting race, class, and gender systems. Yet Black masculinity is often defined one-dimensionally, without attention to class variation in gender enactment. Particularly, with regard to heterosexual partnering, representations of Black masculinity most often involve men enacting compensatory displays to account for having too little masculine capital to meet the dominant culture’s protector–provider prerequisites for accomplishing marital masculinity. Drawing from interviews with 42 never-married Black professional men, I explore their ideas about how masculinity ought to be done within the marital relationship—a critical site for the reproduction of gender inequality. Findings reveal that these men construct “Black professional hybrid masculinity” around a simultaneously racialized and classed compensatory strategy of masculine protection and equitable spousal sharing, resisting simple classification as either hegemonic or counterhegemonic. Rather, it is a distinctly hybrid masculine strategy. These men cherry-pick hegemonic gender norms to reconstruct gender identities that reaffirm their sense of manhood and idealize their future wives as symbols of hybrid femininity—work-devoted women who are also femininely in need of masculine protection. This research offers an intersectional extension of hybrid masculinity and illustrates the need for heterogeneous and context-varied theories of how Black men do gender.

Kan, Man-Yee; Muzhi Zhou; Kamila Kolpashnikova; Ekaterina Hertog; Shohei Yoda; and Jiweon Jun. 2022. Revisiting the Gender Revolution: Time on Paid Work, Domestic Work, and Total Work in East Asian and Western Societies 1985–2016”. Gender & Society, 36(3): 368-396
We analyze time use data of four East Asian societies and 12 Western countries between 1985 and 2016 to investigate the gender revolution in paid work, domestic work, and total work. The closing of gender gaps in paid work, domestic work, and total work time has stalled in the most recent decade in several countries. The magnitude of the gender gaps, cultural contexts, and welfare policies plays a key role in determining whether the gender revolution in the division of labor will stall or continue. Women undertake more total work than men across all societies: The gender gap ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. Our findings suggest that cultural norms interact with institutional contexts to affect the patterns of gender convergence in time use, and gender equality might settle at differing levels of egalitarianism across countries.

Kuperberg, Arielle; Pamela Stone; and Torie Lucas. 2022. “He’s a Mr. Mom”: Cultural Ambivalence in Print News Depictions of Stay-at-Home Fathers, 1987–2016.” Gender & Society, 36(3): 313-341.
Stay-at-home fathers challenge norms related to masculinity and gendered divisions of parenting roles. We conduct a content analysis of 94 print news articles about at-home fathers published 1987–2016 in the United States, identifying key themes and comparing results with our earlier research on news depictions of at-home mothers. We also analyze national trends in fathers staying home using Current Population Survey data to understand contexts in which articles were published. Articles were family-centric and disproportionately focused on economic elites, emphasizing their “choice” to stay home, but economic reasons for fathers staying home were described more commonly than in portrayals of mothers. Stigmatization experiences were pervasive in articles, appearing more commonly when staying home was reported as discretionary, but less commonly when staying home resulted from involuntary unemployment in recent periods. Portrayals reflect, reinforce, contribute to, and challenge father-as-provider norms, mirroring changes in masculinity norms over time and revealing cultural ambivalence toward at-home fathers.

Çineli, Beyda. 2022. “Who Manages the Money at Home? Multilevel Analysis of Couples’ Money Management Across 34 Countries.” Gender & Society, 36(1): 32–62.
Women’s and men’s predominant social practices in managing employment and unpaid work are influenced by both family policies and society’s predominant cultural family models. Comparative approaches integrating macro-level and micro-level variables are increasingly used to study gendered dynamics in intimate relationships. Yet similar comparative approaches to the study of money management in intimate relationships are lacking. Using data from 34 countries surveyed in International Social Survey Programme 2012 data (N = 13,645), I explore how variation in institutional and cultural factors concerning gender expectations shapes money management decisions in intimate relationships. The results highlight the importance of contextual gender-egalitarian beliefs and institutional practices to the likelihood of using joint and individualized systems of money management over the traditional system. While macro-level gender ideology was associated with both joint and individualized system (vs. traditional), the institutional practices were found to have a stronger relationship with couples’ individualized money management.

Agarwal, Bina. 2021. “Reflections on the Less Visible and Less Measured: Gender and COVID-19 in India.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 244-255.
The gender effects of COVID-19 are complex, and extend much beyond the issues of care work and domestic violence that have captured global attention. Some effects have been immediate, such as job losses, food shortages, and enhanced domestic work burdens; others will emerge in time, such as the depletion of savings and assets and pandemic-related widowhood, which would make recovery difficult. I use examples from India to outline the complexity of such outcomes, the limitations of the many telephone surveys conducted during the pandemic, and the importance of anticipating both the immediate and the sequential effects.
We can anticipate these effects by drawing on our knowledge of preexisting gender inequalities and people’s coping strategies under crises, as well as real-time media alerts. Prior conceptualization can help us design better surveys for capturing both the visible and less visible impact of the pandemic, as well as formulate more effective policies for mitigating the adverse effects. I also highlight the advantages of group-based approaches for protecting women’s livelihoods during such crises, and emphasize the need to create a synergy between feminist theory, evidence gathering, and policy formulation.

Chung, Heejung, Holly Birkett, Sarah Forbes, and Hyojin Seo. 2021. “Covid-19, Flexible Working, and Implications for Gender Equality in the United Kingdom.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 218-232.
We examine the role flexible working has for gender equality during the pandemic, focusing on arrangements that give workers control over when and where they work. We use a survey of dual-earning working parents in the United Kingdom during the peak of the first lockdown, namely, between mid-May and mid-June 2020. Results show that in most households in our survey, mothers were mainly responsible for housework and child care tasks both before and during the lockdown period, although this proportion has slightly declined during the pandemic. In households where fathers worked from home during the pandemic, respondents were less likely to say that mothers were the ones solely or mostly responsible for housework and child care. Fathers who worked from home were more likely to say that they were doing more housework and child care during the lockdown period than they were before. Finally, we explore what we expect to happen in the postpandemic times in relation to flexible working and gender equality. The large expansion of flexible working we expect to happen may help reduce some of the gender inequalities that have exacerbated during the pandemic, but only if we reflect on and change our existing work cultures and gender norms.

Collins, Caitlyn, Leah Ruppanner, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “The Gendered Consequences of a Weak Infrastructure of Care: School Reopening Plans and Parents’ Employment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 180-193.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended in-person public education across the United States, a critical infrastructure of care that parents—especially mothers—depend on to work. To understand the nature and magnitude of school closures across states, we collected detailed primary data—the Elementary School Operating Status database (ESOS)—to measure the percentage of school districts offering in-person, remote, and hybrid instruction models for elementary schools by state in September 2020. We link these data to the Current Population Survey to evaluate the association between school reopening and parents’ labor force participation rates, comparing 2020 labor force participation rates to those observed prepandemic in 2019. We find that, across states, the maternal labor force participation rate fell to a greater extent than that of fathers. In 2019, mothers’ rate of labor force participation was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’. By 2020, this gap grew by 5 percentage points in states where schools offered primarily remote instruction. We show that schools are a vital source of care for young children, and that without in-person instruction, mothers have been sidelined from the labor force. The longer these conditions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for mothers to fully recover from prolonged spells of nonemployment, resulting in reduced occupational opportunities and lifetime earnings.

Craig, Lyn, and Brendan Churchill. 2021. “Unpaid Work and Care During COVID-19: Subjective Experiences of Same-Sex Couples and Single Mothers in Australia.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 233-243.
This paper draws on data from Work and Care During COVID-19, an online survey of Australians during pandemic lockdown in May 2020 (n = 2,722). It focuses on how subsamples of lesbian, gay, and bisexual mothers and fathers in couples (n = 280) and single mothers (n = 480) subjectively experienced unpaid work and care during lockdown compared with heterosexual mothers and fathers in couples, and with partnered mothers, respectively. During the pandemic, nonheterosexual fathers’ subjective reports were less negative than those of their heterosexual counterparts, but differences between heterosexual and lesbian/bisexual mothers were more mixed. Unlike their partnered counterparts, more single mothers reported feeling satisfied than before with their balance of paid and unpaid work and how they spent their time overall during the pandemic, perhaps because they avoided partnership conflicts and particularly benefited from relaxed commuting and child care deadlines.

Dunatchik, Allison, Kathleen Gerson, Jennifer Glass, Jerry A. Jacobs, and Haley Stritzel. 2021. “Gender, Parenting, and the Rise of Remote Work During the Pandemic: Implications for Domestic Inequality in the United States.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 194-205.
We examine how the shift to remote work altered responsibilities for domestic labor among partnered couples and single parents. The study draws on data from a nationally representative survey of 2,200 US adults, including 478 partnered parents and 151 single parents, in April 2020. The closing of schools and child care centers significantly increased demands on working parents in the United States, and in many circumstances reinforced an unequal domestic division of labor.

Fuller, Sylvia, and Yue Qian. 2021. “Covid-19 and the Gender Gap in Employment Among Parents of Young Children in Canada.” Gender & Society 35 (2): 206-217.
Economic and social disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have important implications for gender and class inequality. Drawing on Statistics Canada’s monthly Labour Force Survey, we document trends in gender gaps in employment and work hours over the pandemic (February–October 2020). Our findings highlight the importance of care provisions for gender equity, with gaps larger among parents than people without children, and most pronounced when care and employment were more difficult to reconcile. When employment barriers eased, so did the gender–employment gap. The pandemic could not undo longer-standing cultural and structural shifts motivating contemporary mothers’ employment. The pandemic also exacerbated educational inequalities among women, highlighting the importance of assessing gendered impacts through an intersectional lens.

Hu, Yang. 2021. “Divergent Gender Revolutions: Cohort Changes in Household Financial Management across Income Gradient.” Gender & Society 35 (5): 746-777.
The ways in which partners manage their money provide important clues to gender inequality in and the nature of couple relationships. Analyzing data from nationally representative surveys (N = 11,730 couples), I examine changes across British cohorts born between the 1920s and 1990s in their household financial management, and how the changes vary across individuals and couples occupying differential income positions. The results show divergent, nuanced cohort trends toward gender equality in couples’ money management. Across successive cohorts of low-earning women, there has been a subtle relaxation in the form of male control, reflected in a decrease in the proportion of men adopting “back-seat” management by retaining the majority of the couple’s money while delegating the chore of managing daily expenses to their partners. By contrast, the empowerment of high-earning women is reflected primarily in an individualization of financial management, evident in a cohort decrease in joint financial management and an increase in independent management. The trend of individualization is particularly prominent among couples in which both partners have equally high earnings. The findings provide new insights into and important extensions of the theorization of gender relations in and the individualization of couple relationships.

Lightman, Naomi, and Anthony Kevins. 2021. “‘Women’s Work’: Welfare State Spending and the Gendered and Classed Dimensions of Unpaid Care.” Gender & Society 35 (5): 778-805.
This study is the first to explicitly assess the connections between welfare state spending and the gendered and classed dimensions of unpaid care work across 29 European nations. Our research uses multi-level model analysis of European Quality of Life Survey data, examining childcare and housework burdens for people living with at least one child under the age of 18. Two key findings emerge: First, by disaggregating different types of unpaid care work, we find that childcare provision is more gendered than classed—reflecting trends toward “intensive mothering”. Housework and cooking, on the contrary, demonstrate both gender and class effects, likely because they are more readily outsourced by wealthier individuals to the paid care sector. Second, while overall social expenditure has no effect on hours spent on childcare and housework, results suggest that family policy may shape the relationship between gender, income, and housework (but not childcare). Specifically, family policy expenditure is associated with a considerably smaller gender gap vis-à-vis the time dedicated to housework: This effect is present across the income spectrum, but is particularly substantial in the case of lower income women.

Rao, Aliya Hamid. 2021. “Gendered Interpretations of Job Loss and Subsequent Professional Pathways.” Gender & Society 35 (6): 884–909.
While we know that career interruptions shape men’s and women’s professional trajectories, we know less about how job loss may matter for this process. Drawing on interviews with unemployed, college-educated men and women in professional occupations, I show that while both men and women interpret their job loss as due to impersonal “business” decisions, women additionally attribute their job loss as arising from employers’ “personal” decisions. Men’s job loss shapes their subsequent preferred professional pathways, but never in a way that diminishes the importance of their participation in the labor force. For some women in this study, job loss becomes a moment to reflect on their professional pathways, often pulling them back from paid work. This study identifies job loss as an event that, on top of gendered workplace experiences and caregiving obligations, may curtail some women’s participation in paid work.

Ruppanner, Leah, Caitlyn Collins, Liana Christin Landivar, and William J. Scarborough. 2021. “How Do Gender Norms and Childcare Costs Affect Maternal Employment Across US States?” Gender & Society 35 (6): 910–939.
In this article, we investigate how state-to-state differences in U.S. childcare costs and gender norms are associated with maternal employment. Although an abundance of research has examined factors that influence mothers’ employment, few studies explore the interrelationship between maternal employment and culture, policy, and individual resources across U.S. states. Using a representative sample of women in the 2017 American Community Survey along with state-level measures of childcare costs and gender norms, we examine the relationship between these state conditions and mothers’ probability of employment. We pay careful attention to differences in mothers’ level of education. Our results suggest that expensive childcare is associated with lower maternal employment, particularly for those with less education. For the college educated, expensive childcare is negatively associated with maternal employment in states with traditional gender norms that uphold mothers as primary caregivers. Among mothers with lower levels of education, gender norms have a limited association with employment. These findings suggest that highly educated mothers mobilize resources to remain in the labor force when paid work is supported by local gender norms. For less-educated mothers, expensive childcare predicts lower employment regardless of gender norms, indicating that structural constraints outweigh normative expectations among those with fewer resources.

Thébaud, Sarah, and Catherine J. Taylor. 2021. “The Specter of Motherhood: Culture and the Production of Gendered Career Aspirations in Science and Engineering.” Gender & Society 35 (3): 395-421.
Why are young women less likely than young men to persist in academic science and engineering? Drawing on 57 in-depth interviews with PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the United States, we describe how, in academic science and engineering, motherhood is constructed in opposition to professional legitimacy, and as a subject of fear, repudiation, and public controversy. We call this the “specter of motherhood.” This specter disadvantages young women and amplifies anticipatory concerns about combining an academic career with motherhood. By specifying (1) the content of cultural discourses about motherhood in academic workplaces and (2) the processes by which these ideas circulate, produce disadvantage, and inform young, childless scientists and engineers’ career plans, our findings offer novel insight into mechanisms contributing to inequality in academic careers.

Yaish, Meir, Hadas Mandel, and Tali Kristal. 2021. “Has the Economic Lockdown Following the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed the Gender Division of Labor in Israel?” Gender & Society 35 (2): 256-270.
The economic shutdown and national lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 have increased demand for unpaid work at home, particularly among families with children, and reduced demand for paid work. Concurrently, the share of the workforce that has relocated its workplace to home has also increased. In this article, we examine the consequences of these processes for the allocation of time among paid work, housework, and care work for men and women in Israel. Using data on 2,027 Israeli adults whom we followed since the first week of March (before the spread of COVID-19), we focus on the effect of the second lockdown in Israel (in September) on the gender division of both paid and unpaid work. We find that as demand for housework caused by the lockdown increases, women—especially with children—increase their housework much more than men do, particularly when they work from home. The consequences of work from home and other flexible work arrangements for gender inequality within the family are discussed.

Frenkel, Michal, and Varda Wasserman. 2020. “With God on their Side: Gender-Religiosity Intersectionality and Women’s Workforce Integration.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 818-843.
On the basis of a case study of the integration of Haredi Jewish women into the Israeli high-tech industry, we explore how gender–religiosity intersectionality affects ultra-conservative women’s participation in the labor market and their ability to negotiate with employers for corporate work–family practices that address their idiosyncratic requirements. We highlight the importance of pious women’s affiliation to their highly organized religious communities while taking a process-centered approach to intersectionality and focusing on the matrix of domination formed by the Israeli state, employers, and the organized ultra-orthodox community. We dub this set of actors “the unholy-trinity” and argue that it constructs a specific, religion-centric inequality regime that restrains women’s job and earning opportunities. At the same time, the “unholy trinity” also empowers women in their struggle to create a working environment that is receptive to their religiosity and what that commitment demands of them.

Hirsh, C. Elizabeth, Christina Treleaven, and Sylvia Fuller. 2020. “Caregivers, Gender, and the Law: An Analysis of Family Responsibility Discrimination Case Outcomes.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 760-789.
As workers struggle to combine work and family responsibilities, discrimination against workers based on their status as caregivers is on the rise. Although both women and men feel the pinch, caregiver discrimination is particularly damaging for women, because care is intricately tied to gendered norms and expectations. In this article, we analyze caregiver discrimination cases resolved by Canadian Human Rights Tribunals from 1985 through 2016, to explore how work and caregiving clash. We identify issues involved in disputes and the ways gendered expectations about work–life facilitation inform disputes and outcomes. We find that although women are more likely to bring claims and obtain favorable outcomes, the legal interpretation of claims is highly gendered. Women bring claims involving both their presumed status as caregivers and the practical challenges of seeking accommodations for care, whereas men’s claims are largely accommodation based. In adjudicating cases, Tribunals are more likely to see women than men as lacking credibility when making their claims, questioning their competence and legitimacy. In contrast, men struggle to demonstrate the legal basis of work–family interference, failing to convey how seriously work interferes with family responsibilities.

Luhr, Sigrid. 2020. “Signaling Parenthood: Managing the Motherhood Penalty and Fatherhood Premium in the U.S. Service Sector.” Gender & Society 34 (2): 259-283.
An extensive body of research documents that women experience a motherhood penalty at work whereas men experience a fatherhood premium. Yet much of this work presupposes that employers are aware of a worker’s parental status. Given the different consequences that parenthood has on outcomes such as pay and promotions, it is conceivable that men and women may deploy their status as parents differently when interacting with employers. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a racially diverse sample, this article examines how mothers and fathers working in the service sector use their parental status when negotiating work and child care responsibilities. Mothers, particularly black mothers, were less likely to openly discuss their children at work. In some cases, women purposefully concealed from their employers the fact that they were mothers or found other ways of signaling their commitment to their jobs. Fathers, on the other hand, were more likely to discuss their children with their employers and overwhelmingly characterized their managers as understanding of their parenting obligations. Together, these findings help us understand how mothers and fathers navigate the consequences of parenthood in the workplace and add nuance to previous studies of motherhood penalties and fatherhood premiums.

Scarborough, William J., and Ray Sin. 2020. “Gendered Places: The Dimensions of Local Gender Norms across the United States.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 705-735.
In this study, we explore the dimensions of local gender norms across U.S. commuting zones. Applying hierarchical cluster analysis with four established indicators of gender norms, we find that these local cultural environments are best conceptualized with a multilevel framework. Commuting zones can be differentiated between those that are egalitarian and those that are traditional. Within these general categories, however, exist more complex dimensions. Gender-traditional areas may be distinguished between traditional-breadwinning and traditional-essentialist, while egalitarian areas are separated into those that are liberal-egalitarian and egalitarian-essentialist. Examining the factors sustaining this spatial variation, we test the role of compositional and contextual effects. We find limited support for compositional effects because commuting zone demographic makeup explains little variation in gender norm indicators. Instead, we find evidence that local gender norms are sustained through contextual effects where the experience of living in a particular environment shapes residents’ attitudes and behaviors. Contextual effects are exceptionally strong in areas with traditional gender norms, where residents who would otherwise hold gender-egalitarian perspectives (e.g., the highly educated) have more traditional outlooks than those who share the same characteristics but reside in places with egalitarian gender norms.

Smeraldo Schell, Kait, and Jennifer M. Silva. 2020. “Resisting Despair: Narratives of Disruption and Transformation Among White Working-Class Women in a Declining Coal-Mining Community.” Gender & Society 34 (5): 736-759.
In this article, we examine how white working-class women reimagine gender in the face of social and economic changes that have undermined their ability to perform normative femininity. As blue-collar jobs have disappeared, scholars have posited that white working-class men and women have become increasingly isolated, disconnected from institutions, and hopeless about the future, leading to a culture of despair. Although past literature has examined how working-class white men cope with the inability to perform masculinity through wage-earning and family authority, gender has been undertheorized in these discussions, treating working-class women’s and men’s despair interchangeably. Drawing on 37 in-depth interviews conducted in a former coal-mining town in northeastern Pennsylvania, we identify three overarching strategies that women deploy in their life histories to cope with disruption: embracing pain as an opportunity for self-growth; dispelling shame and striving for equality; and enduring suffering. These strategies allow women to feel hopeful and worthy as they confront enormous challenges, whether starting over following relationship dissolution, learning to be independent from men, or simply surviving hardship for the sake of their children. We explore the implications for recreating gender identity in each strategy and question how different strategies might serve to protect women from, or alternatively solidify, sentiments of despair.

Preisner, Klaus, Franz Neuberger, Ariane Bertogg, and Julia M. Schaub. 2019. “Closing the Happiness Gap: The Decline of Gendered Parenthood Norms and the Increase in Parental Life Satisfaction” Gender & Society 34 (1): 31-55.
In recent decades, normative expectations for parenthood have changed for both men and women, fertility has declined, and work–family arrangements have become more egalitarian. Previous studies indicate that the transition to parenthood and work–family arrangements both influence life satisfaction and do so differently for men and women. Drawing on constructivism and utility maximization, we theorize how gendered parenthood norms influence life satisfaction after the transition to parenthood, and how decisions regarding motherhood and fatherhood are made in order to maximize life satisfaction. We hypothesize that the rise of gender-egalitarian patterns has contributed to closing the parental happiness gap, and that the effects of motherhood and fatherhood on life satisfaction have converged. We test these assumptions by drawing on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984-2015) and applying a series of hybrid panel regressions to estimate motherhood and fatherhood effects on life satisfaction in Western Germany over the last three decades. We then trace trends in these effects back to changing parenthood norms. The results indicate that the implications of parenthood have converged for men and women. As support for a gendered division of labor has lost ground, the transition to parenthood has become increasingly conducive to life satisfaction for both genders, and the parental happiness gap has vanished.

Rehel, Erin M. 2014. “When Dad Stays Home Too: Paternity Leave, Gender, and Parenting.” Gender & Society 28 (1): 110-132.
Drawing from 85 semi-structured interviews with fathers and mothers in three cities (Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago), this study argues that when fathers in heterosexual couples experience the transition to parenthood in ways that are structurally comparable to mothers, they come to think about and enact parenting in ways that are more similar to mothers. The author considers the specific role played by extended time off immediately after the birth of a child in structuring that experience. By drawing fathers into the daily realities of child care, free of workplace constraints, extended time off provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of coparenting creates the opportunity for the development of a more gender-equitable division of labor.

Cha, Youngjoo. 2013. “Overwork and the Persistence of Gender Segregation in Occupations.” Gender & Society 27 (2): 158-184.
This study investigates whether the increasingly common trend of working long hours (“overwork”) perpetuates gender segregation in occupations. While overwork is an expected norm in many male-dominated occupations, women, especially mothers, are structurally less able to meet this expectation because their time is subject to family demands more than is men’s time. This study investigates whether the conflicting time demands of work and family increase attrition rates of mothers in male-dominated occupations, thereby reinforcing occupational segregation. Using longitudinal data drawn from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, Cha shows that mothers are more likely to leave male-dominated occupations when they work 50 hours or more per week, but the same effect is not found for men or childless women. Results also show that overworking mothers are more likely to exit the labor force entirely, and this pattern is specific to male-dominated occupations. These findings demonstrate that the norm of overwork in male-dominated workplaces and the gender beliefs operating in the family combine to reinforce gender segregation of the labor market. 

Chesley, Noelle. 2011. “Stay-at-Home Fathers and Breadwinning Mothers: Gender, Couple Dynamics, and Social Change.” Gender & Society 25 (5): 642-664.
Chesley examines experiences of married couples to better understand whether economic shifts that push couples into gender-atypical work/family arrangements influence gender inequality. The author draws on in-depth interviews conducted in 2008 with stay-at-home husbands and their wives in 21 married-couple families with children (42 individual interviews). Chesley finds that the decision to have a father stay home is heavily influenced by economic conditions, suggesting that men’s increased job instability and shifts in the relative employment conditions of husbands and wives push some men into at-home fatherhood. However, this shift in family arrangements can promote change toward greater gender equality even in couples that initially hold entrenched, gendered beliefs. The data indicate that at-home fathers come to value their increased involvement in children’s care in ways that reduce gender differences in parenting and that have the potential to translate into institutional change, particularly when they reenter the labor force. Furthermore, at-home father arrangements generally appear to provide increased support for women’s employment and promote changes in women’s work behavior that may reduce inequities that stem from traditionally gendered divisions in work/family responsibilities.

Hoang, Lan Anh, and Brenda S. A. Yeoh. 2011. “Breadwinning Wives and ‘Left-Behind’ Husbands: Men and Masculinities in the Vietnamese Transnational Family.” Gender & Society 25 (6): 717-739.
This article explores an aspect of women’s transnational labor migration that has been understudied in many labor-sending countries: how men experience shifts in the household labor division triggered by women’s migration. In so doing, the authors shed light on the diverse ways notions of masculinity and gender identities are being reworked and renegotiated in the transnational family. Drawing on qualitative data collected from in-depth interviews with carers of left-behind children in Northern Vietnam, we show how men are confronted with the need to take on child care duties, which have traditionally been ascribed to women, while at the same time being under considerable pressure to live up to locally accepted masculinity ideals. The authors provide interesting insights into the changing family structures and dynamics in Vietnamese society where patriarchal norms continue to exert significant influence on different facets of life.

Benard, Stephen, and Shelley J. Correll. 2010. “Normative Discrimination and the Motherhood Penalty.” Gender & Society 24 (5): 616-646.
This research proposes and tests a new theoretical mechanism to account for a portion of the motherhood penalty in wages and related labor market outcomes. At least a portion of this penalty is attributable to discrimination based on the assumption that mothers are less competent and committed than other types of workers. But what happens when mothers definitively prove their competence and commitment? In this study, the authors examine whether mothers face discrimination in labor-market-type evaluations even when they provide indisputable evidence that they are competent and committed to paid work. The authors test the hypothesis that evaluators discriminate against highly successful mothers by viewing them as less warm, less likable, and more interpersonally hostile than otherwise similar workers who are not mothers. The results support this “normative discrimination” hypothesis for female but not male evaluators. The findings have important implications for understanding the nature and persistence of discrimination toward mothers.

Hodges, Melissa J., and Michelle J. Budig. 2010. “Who Gets the Daddy Bonus? Organizational Hegemonic Masculinity and the Impact of Fatherhood on Earnings.” Gender & Society 24 (6): 717-745.
Using the 1979-2006 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors investigate how the earnings bonus for fatherhood varies by characteristics associated with hegemonic masculinity in the American workplace: heterosexual marital status, professional/managerial status, educational attainment, skill demands of jobs, and race/ethnicity. We find the earnings bonus for fatherhood persists after controlling for an array of differences, including human capital, labor supply, family structure, and wives’ employment status. Moreover, consistent with predictions from the theory of hegemonic masculinity within bureaucratic organizations, the fatherhood bonus is significantly larger for men with other markers of workplace hegemonic masculinity. Men who are white, married, in households with a traditional gender division of labor, college graduates, professional/managerial workers and whose jobs emphasize cognitive skills and deemphasize physical strength receive the largest fatherhood earnings bonuses.

Cha, Youngjoo, and Sarah Thébaud. 2009. “Labor Markets, Breadwinning, and Beliefs: How Economic Context Shapes Men’s Gender Ideology.” Gender & Society 23 (2): 215-243.
Abundant research has found that men’s economic status shapes their gender ideology such that men who are breadwinners are less likely to endorse egalitarian ideology than men in nontraditional arrangements. This article investigates how the association between men’s breadwinning status and gender ideology is influenced by the institutional arrangements of different types of labor markets. Rigid labor markets support men’s ability to be breadwinners in the long term, whereas flexible labor markets provide men with more frequent, but less permanent, experiences of nontraditional arrangements. The authors anticipate that breadwinner status will have stronger effects on men’s gender ideology in rigid labor markets because men can expect less fluctuation in their employment situations in those contexts. Results from a multilevel analysis of 27 countries indeed demonstrate that individual men’s economic dependency on their partners influences men’s gender egalitarian ideology more strongly in rigid labor markets than in flexible markets.

Misra, Joya, Stephanie Moller, and Michelle J. Budig. 2007. “Work—Family Policies and Poverty for Partnered and Single Women in Europe and North America.” Gender & Society 21 (6): 804-827.
Work—family policy strategies reflect gendered assumptions about the roles of men and women within families and therefore may lead to significantly different outcomes, particularly for families headed by single mothers. The authors argue that welfare states have adopted strategies based on different assumptions about women’s and men’s roles in society, which then affect women’s chances of living in poverty cross-nationally. The authors examine how various strategies are associated with poverty rates across groups of women and also examine more directly the effects of specific work—family policies on poverty rates. They find that while family benefits and child care for young children unequivocally lower poverty rates, particularly for families headed by a single mother, long parental leaves have more ambivalent effects. The findings suggest that it is critical to examine the gendered assumptions underlying work—family policies rather than viewing all work—family policies as the same.

Lan, Pei-Chia. 2003. “Maid Or Madam? Filipina Migrant Workers and the Continuity of Domestic Labor.” Gender & Society 17 (2): 187-208.
This article examines the complexity of feminized domestic labor in the context of global migration. Lan views unpaid household labor and paid domestic work not as dichotomous categories but as structural continuities across the public and private spheres. Based on a qualitative study of Filipina migrant domestic workers in Taiwan, Lan demonstrates how women travel through the maid/madam boundary—housewives in home countries become breadwinners by doing domestic work overseas, and foreign maids turn into foreign brides. While migrant women sell their domestic labor in the market, they remain burdened with gendered responsibilities in their own families. Their simultaneous occupancy of paid and unpaid domestic labor is segmented into distinct spatial settings. Lan underscores women’s agency by presenting how they articulate their paid and unpaid domestic labor and bargain with the monetary and emotional value of their labor.

Gerson, Kathleen. 2002. “Moral Dilemmas, Moral Strategies, and the Transformation of Gender: Lessons from Two Generations of Work and Family Change.” Gender & Society 16 (2): 8-28.
Modern societies have reconciled the dilemma between self-interest and caring for others by dividing women and men into different moral categories. Women have been expected to seek personal development by caring for others, while men care for others by sharing the rewards of their independent work achievements. Changes in work and family life have undermined this framework but have failed to offer a clear avenue for creating new resolutions. Instead, contradictory social changes have produced new moral dilemmas. Women must now seek economic self-sufficiency even as they continue to bear responsibility for the care of others. Men can reject the obligation to provide for others, but they face new pressures to become more involved fathers and partners. Facing these dilemmas, young women and men must develop innovative moral strategies to renegotiate work-family conflicts and transform traditional views of gender, but persisting institutional obstacles thwart their emerging aspirations to balance personal autonomy with caring for others. To overcome these obstacles, we need to create more humane, less gendered theoretical and social frameworks for understanding and apportioning moral obligation.

Rushing, Beth. 2002. “From the SWS President: Academic Work and Personal Lives.” Gender & Society 16 (5): 581-584.
Rushing highlights the tensions between academic work and family life. University policies, departmental cultures, and personal expectations often promote male-biased definitions of the ideal faculty member–one who can be single-mindedly devoted to research and teaching. Academic policies and practices do not operate equally for men and women. Women have made important progress in academia during the past few decades. But women are more likely to leave academic employment before tenure, are less likely to receive tenure, and take longer to be promoted to full professor. Salaries for women, even controlling for rank, seniority, and other factors, still lag behind men’s salaries. Women are more likely to have extensive family responsibilities, whether for children, spouses/partners, elders, or other family members, though there is no consistent statistical evidence that this differential responsibility has effects on faculty members’ productivity. Work-family issues are not limited to women but are very clearly gendered.