A Life-Changing Event: First Births and Men's and Women's Attitudes to Gender Roles and Motherhood

Janeen Baxter, University of Queensland
Sandra Buchler, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Mark Western, University of Queensland

Previous research has shown that the transition to parenthood is a critical life course stage. Using three waves of data from the Households, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey we investigate changes in men’s and women’s attitudes following the transition to parenthood. We focus our analyses on men and women aged 18-50 who experience a first birth and model how their attitudes change. Results from fixed effect regression models show that both men and women prioritise motherhood as women’s main role after the birth of their first child, but women also believe that motherhood can be prioritised while pursuing paid employment outside the home. Our results have important implications for understanding how attitudes are formed and change over the life course, as well as for understanding changing gender patterns within households following the transition to parenthood and men and women’s orientations to parenting and gender divisions of labor.

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Presented in Session 119: Gender Roles, Household Labor, and Parenting