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Men's roles and women's goals : causes, consequences, and complementarity Croft, Alyssa


This dissertation explores the possibility that persistent gender inequality in the domestic sphere, wherein women do disproportionately more childcare and housework than men, might explain some of the variance in women’s adherence to traditional gender roles. I present three separate papers addressing the broad research topic of gender role complementarity (i.e., how rigid masculinity stereotypes governing men’s behavior impact women’s possible selves). First, I summarize a study of how the self-views of over 320 children are predicted by the beliefs and behaviors of their parents. The most relevant finding to this dissertation is that grade-school-aged girls with traditionally career-focused fathers reported female-stereotypic career aspirations, but girls whose fathers helped out more with domestic tasks nominated more gender-neutral career aspirations. Second, a set of four experiments tested a complementarity hypothesis, whereby women’s expectations about men’s willingness to adopt caregiving roles in their future families might contribute to whether women can imagine themselves as breadwinners and enable them to pursue their career ambitions. Results showed that women who were primed with counter-stereotypical male exemplars or information that men are increasingly assuming caregiving roles (as opposed to being more career-focused) were more likely to envision themselves as the primary economic provider of their future family. Furthermore, this gender role complementarity was particularly strong among women with more ambitious career goals. These patterns suggest that women's stereotypes about men's roles in the future could constrain the decisions they are making in the present. Finally, in the last set of studies, I find evidence that women are less attracted to agentic, career-oriented potential romantic partners than more communal, family-oriented or balanced potential partners, as predicted by their desire to become a breadwinner. Taken together, these studies highlight broader considerations for gender equality, beyond focusing on the workplace in isolation. Future directions for research on the perceptions and implications of gender role change are also discussed.

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