Biological essentialism, gender ideologies, and role attitudes: What determines parents' involvement in child care

Ruth Gaunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study draws on Bem's conceptualization (The lenses of gender: Transforming the debate on sexual inequality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993) of biological essentialism to explore fathers' and mothers' involvement in child care. The relationships between parental essentialist perceptions, gender ideology, fathers' role attitudes, and various forms of involvement in child care were examined. Two hundred and nine couples with 6-36-month-old children completed extensive questionnaires. Analyses revealed that fathers' essentialist perceptions predicted involvement in child care tasks and hours of care by the mother, whereas mothers' essentialist perceptions predicted hours of care by the father. Parents' attitudes toward the father's role predicted involvement in child care tasks. Parents' attitudes and perceptions contributed to involvement in child care even after the effects of the parents' employment were controlled. The importance of examining various aspects of parents' views, and distinguishing different forms of involvement in child care is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-533
Number of pages11
JournalSex Roles
Volume55
Issue number7-8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgement This research was supported by Grant 4939 from The Israel Foundations Trustees.

Keywords

  • Child care
  • Essentialism
  • Father involvement
  • Gender ideology

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