Maternal gatekeeping is commonly described as a collection of beliefs and behaviors that ultimately inhibit a collaborative effort between mothers and fathers in family work (Allen & Hawkins, 1999; Fagan & Barnett, 2003). These beliefs and behaviors limit fathers' opportunities to experience child care and housework and to develop the relevant skills (Allen & Hawkins, 1999). Scholars have proposed several social and psychological characteristics leading to maternal gatekeeping. Nevertheless, the empirical evidence regarding the effect of the mother's psychological characteristics on gatekeeping is scant (Gaunt, 2007). This study explored the role of mothers' gender ideologies, essentialist perceptions, and attitudes toward the father's role in determining their gatekeeping tendencies. Drawing on Bem's (1993) analysis of biological essentialism as a gender lens, it was hypothesized that a mother's tendency to perceive men and women as essentially different in their predispositions to parenthood may account for her gatekeeping beliefs and behaviors. Moreover, it was hypothesized that a mother's gender ideology and her specific attitudes regarding the father's child-care skills and motivations would affect her gatekeeping tendencies. A sample of 250 women with 3- to 40-month-old children participated in this study. Respondents completed extensive questionnaires that measured their essentialist perceptions, gender ideologies, attitudes toward the father's role, and three dimensions of gatekeeping beliefs and behaviors. As predicted, gender ideologies, essentialist perceptions, and attitudes toward the father's role accounted for maternal gatekeeping in total. Moreover, different dimensions of gatekeeping were differentially associated with the three types of attitudes. The standards and responsibilities dimension of gatekeeping was related to the mother's essentialist perceptions and to her specific attitudes toward the father's role. The differential family roles dimension of gatekeeping was related to the mother's gender ideology and her essentialist perceptions. The importance of examining social-psychological characteristics that account for gatekeeping tendencies is discussed and the need to further explore the processes through which family work is allocated is stressed.
|Title of host publication||Handbook on Gender Roles|
|Subtitle of host publication||Conflicts, Attitudes and Behaviors|
|Publisher||Nova Science Publishers, Inc.|
|Number of pages||14|
|State||Published - 2009|