Good news: the youngest generation of adults is the most egalitarian generation of adults. Gender roles have gotten blurrier, the restrictions on women working and men helping around the house have been discarded, and there are undoubtedly more “equal” marriages than ever before.
At least in theory.
In practice, women are still more likely to handle domestic and child-related activities within millennial marriages. According to a study in the American Sociological Review, “men and women, ages 18 to 32 have egalitarian attitudes about gender roles, across education and income levels. But when faced with a lack of family-friendly policies, most fell back on traditional roles.”
The article attributes this partially to policies that give women maternity leave, while men don’t get paternity leave – nor are they willing to take it in most instances.
What I found even more interesting was how people’s perceptions changed after having kids.
Gender roles have gotten blurrier, the restrictions on women working and men helping around the house have been discarded, and there are undoubtedly more “equal” marriages than ever before.
“Only 35 percent of employed millennial men without children said they thought men should be breadwinners and women should be caregivers…But of millennial men who were already fathers, 53 percent said it was better for mothers and fathers to take on traditional roles.”
“It’s not that they’ve thrown over their ideals, it’s just enacting those are much harder given the workplace and cultural structures they’re encountering,” said Pamela Stone, a sociologist at Hunter College.
Makes sense to me. I firmly believe that men and women can do whatever they want. My wife had the option of continuing with her job of 16 years. She started with 3 months maternity leave, got a 3 month extension, and then declared it “eternity leave.” We’re fortunate that she gets to do what she wants and I get to do what I want.
But for young couples who can’t afford to live on one income and can’t afford a nanny, someone is most likely going to have to sacrifice his/her career for the good of the family. So far, that sacrifice continues to be made by women, as only 8 percent of millennial men are taking on primary child care responsibilities.
Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.