Undoing Gendered Identities? Centrality and Meanings of Parental and Work Identities in Semi-Traditional, Equal-Sharing and Role-Reversed Couples

Ruth Gaunt, Ana Jordan, Agata Wezyk, Mariana Pinho, Anna Tarrant, Nicola Chanamuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This mixed-methods study explored the centrality and meanings of men’s and women’s parental and work-related identities by comparing semi-traditional, equal-sharing, and role-reversed couples. Quantitative analysis involved 2,813 British parents (1,380 men, 1,433 women) who were primary caregivers, primary breadwinners, or equal sharers with at least one child aged 11 or under. Qualitative analysis drew on 60 in-depth interviews with 10 couples from each of the three groups. Results indicated that the centrality of parental and work identities varied by role rather than gender, as both male and female caregivers reported less central work identities and more central parental identities compared to breadwinners and equal-sharers. Equal-sharers and role-reversers were characterized by women’s central work identity and men’s low centrality of work identity. In these couples, a `half and half` parenting ideology underlined the construction of mothering and fathering as equivalent interchangeable identities, each forming only one half of a child’s parenting. Intertwining their maternal identity with an equivalent construction of their partners’ identity allowed women to reconcile a good mother ideal with central work identities, by redefining mothering as a responsibility for only half of the caregiving.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSex Roles
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

Keywords

  • Childcare
  • Fathering
  • Gender
  • Identity
  • Mothering
  • Work and family

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