Member Publication: Gender Flexibility, but not Equality: Young Adults’ Division of Labor Preferences

Please check out the following recent publication by OOW members Brittany N. Dernberger and Joanna R. Pepin. 2020. “Gender Flexibility, but not Equality: Young Adults’ Division of Labor Preferences.” Sociological Science 7: 36-56.


Rising acceptance of mothers’ labor force participation is often considered evidence of increased support for gender equality. This approach overlooks perceptions of appropriate behavior for men and gender dynamics within families. We use nationally representative data of 12th-grade students from Monitoring the Future surveys (1976 to 2014) to evaluate changes in youths’ preferred division of labor arrangements. Over this period, contemporary young people exhibited greater openness to a variety of division of labor scenarios for their future selves as parents, although the husband-as-earner/wife-as-homemaker arrangement remained most desired. Using latent class analysis, we identify six configurations of gender attitudes: conventionalists, neotraditionalists, conventional realists, dual earners, intensive parents, and strong intensive parents. There are no gender egalitarian configurations—exhibiting equal support for both parents’ time at work and time at home. Our findings indicate researchers must distinguish between adoption of gender egalitarian principles and gender flexibility in dividing time at work and at home.

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