Dissertation: Trusting Men with Children: Understanding Childcare as Gendered Work
Over the past fifty years, men’s and women’s roles have gradually converged, in what is today hailed as a “gender revolution.” Yet evidence suggests that changes to the gender system have been more dramatic in the public sphere of work and politics than in the private sphere of family life. Women across the world still perform the lion’s share of childcare in both their own families and as paid workers. This dissertation focuses on identifying individual, normative, and institutional factors that limit men’s participation in the realm of childcare. Using data from a series of online survey experiments, I show that perceptions of men as insufficient and inherently inferior caregivers may act as barriers to the development of an egalitarian division of childcare. In these studies, I identify a variety of ways that essentialist beliefs and gendered expectations actively reproduce the uneven division of childcare in both paid and unpaid care settings. Overall, the findings from this research suggest that many are still skeptical of men acting as primary caregivers and that this skepticism is a key factor in stalled progress towards a gender-equitable division of labor.