Although research on precarious manhood has mushroomed in recent years, the implications of masculinity threats for father involvement at home have rarely been addressed. This study examined how endorsement of traditional masculinity and new masculinity ideologies related to fathers’ involvement in housework and childcare and the extent to which these associations were mediated by sensitivity to masculinity threats, measured in terms of the importance of masculinity to a man’s sense of self-worth. The sample was drawn from the AmeriSpeak Panel and included 1,424 heterosexual employed fathers of young children in the United States (61% White, 21% Hispanic, and 7.5% Black). Results showed that fathers who were sensitive to masculinity threats were less likely than others to participate in housework and childcare. Endorsing traditional masculinity ideology was also associated with less involvement in both domains. This effect was partly accounted for by these men’s heightened sense of masculinity threat, suggesting that traditional masculinity ideology may inhibit changes in work and family roles not simply because of its content but because of its hegemonic status and men’s concern of losing it. By contrast, endorsing new masculinity ideology was associated with increased participation in childcare and was not mediated by sensitivity to masculinity threats. By taking into consideration fathers’ beliefs about masculinity and identifying for whom domestic work constitutes a masculinity threat, this study helps reveal the barriers to father involvement.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the generous support for this project provided by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1233/15). The authors wish to thank Amir Rosenmann for his extremely valuable suggestions and statistical advice in planning this project. An earlier version of this study was presented at the 116th Virtual Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 2021 (https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/final_version.pdf).
© 2022 American Psychological Association
- Involved fathering
- Masculinity ideology
- Masculinity threat
- Precarious manhood