Can We Finish the Revolution? Gender, Work-Family Ideals, and Institutional Constraint

Source: David S. Pedulla, Sarah Thébaud, American Sociological Review, Vol. 80 no. 1, February 2015
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From the abstract:
Why has progress toward gender equality in the workplace and at home stalled in recent decades? A growing body of scholarship suggests that persistently gendered workplace norms and policies limit men’s and women’s ability to create gender egalitarian relationships at home. In this article, we build on and extend prior research by examining the extent to which institutional constraints, including workplace policies, affect young, unmarried men’s and women’s preferences for their future work-family arrangements. We also examine how these effects vary across education levels. Drawing on original survey-experimental data, we ask respondents how they would like to structure their future relationships while experimentally manipulating the degree of institutional constraint under which they state their preferences. Two clear patterns emerge. First, as constraints are removed and men and women can opt for an egalitarian relationship, the majority choose this option, regardless of gender or education level. Second, women’s relationship structure preferences are more responsive than men’s to the removal of institutional constraints through supportive work-family policy interventions. These findings shed light on important questions about the role of institutions in shaping work-family preferences, underscoring the notion that seemingly gender-traditional work-family decisions are largely contingent on the constraints of current workplaces.
Related:
Do Women Still Care? Cohort Changes in US Women’s Care for the Ill or Disabled
Source: Eliza K. Pavalko, Joseph D. Wolfe, Social Forces, Advance Access, First published online: October 20, 2015
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From the abstract:
Increases in women’s labor-force participation and the time families spend at work have reduced the time families have available to care for one another. Recent evidence suggests that responses to these challenges vary for different types of care. While time spent on housework has declined, time devoted to care of children has increased. This paper examines cohort changes in another form of unpaid work, care for ill or disabled friends or family members, and assesses the influence of employment, attitudes, and need for care on age and cohort trends in carework. Using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys, we estimate age and cohort differences in carework among women born between 1922 and 1952. We find a decline in overall levels of carework among more recent birth cohorts of women. However, we do not find cohort changes in the probability that women will provide more intense levels of care, defined as nine or more hours of care per week. The amount of illness and disability among family members partially reduces differences between cohorts, but women’s employment and attitudes about work and family do little to clarify changing patterns of care. Overall, our findings suggest that, even after the large-scale social changes of the twentieth century, women will continue to provide carework when necessary. Thus, the real concern for families is not whether ill or disabled members will have care, but rather, whether their careworkers receive the institutional support required to successfully balance paid and unpaid work.