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

David S. Pedulla, Princeton University
Sarah Thebaud, University of California, Santa Barbara

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. We examine the extent to which these institutional constraints affect young, unmarried men’s and women’s preferences for their future work-family arrangements and examine how these effects vary by education level. Drawing on original survey-experimental data, we ask respondents how they would like to structure their future relationships while experimentally manipulating the degree of constraint under which they state their preferences. Two clear patterns emerge. First, as constraints are removed and egalitarian relationships become an option, the majority of respondents choose this option, regardless of gender or education. Second, women’s relationship preferences are more malleable to the removal of constraints via work-family policy interventions than are men’s. These findings underscore the notion that seemingly gender-traditional work-family decisions are largely contingent on the constraints of current workplaces.

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Presented in Session 184: Determinants of Domestic Gender Equality