Mother Like Mothers and Work Like Fathers: U.S. Heterosexual College Students' Assumptions About Who Should Meet Childcare and Housework Demands. Academic Article uri icon


  • Many U.S. women report balancing competing demands for labor within the family and the workplace. Prior research has found that young adult heterosexual U.S. women are still anticipating doing the majority of their future family's childcare and housework, though they hold more progressive gender role attitudes than in the past. The aim of the present study was to investigate the assumptions of 176 heterosexual college students in the U.S. (Mage=20.57, 88.64% European American, 51.70% ciswomen, 48.30% cismen) about how childcare and housework should be balanced in the context of work responsibilities. Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with two items about working mothers and childcare and working fathers and household care, and provided open-ended responses to explain their justifications for their rating. Open-ended responses were thematically coded. Results revealed that most participants wanted mothers to have the choice to work but considered childcare a limiting problem that (primarily) mothers should solve. Similarly, participants believed that working full-time did not excuse a husband from helping with chores, however they did not express concerns with the term "helping" which implies that the husband would not hold any primary responsibility. Overall, the findings suggest the importance for educational and policymaking interventions and future research to highlight practices that support and encourage the role of men in addressing childcare and household needs.

published proceedings

  • Sex Roles

altmetric score

  • 3.35

author list (cited authors)

  • McConnon, A., Midgette, A. J., & Conry-Murray, C.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • McConnon, Annie||Midgette, Allegra J||Conry-Murray, Clare

publication date

  • January 2022