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Study Finds Young People Still Hold Conservative Views on Gender Roles

A new survey from Gallup reports that opposite-sex couples between the ages of 18 and 34 still harbor and uphold traditional views about who should do what within the home. A new study in Sociological Science also shows that high school seniors believe that the ideal family arrangement involves the man working full time while the woman stays home with the young children.

Claire Cain Miller, gender and family correspondent for the New York Times, remarked that while “young people today have become much more open-minded about gender roles,” “change has been minimal” as “they are holding on to traditional views about who does what at home.” Miller also notes that researchers find it surprising that “home life doesn’t look all that different from half a century ago” even though “there’s now almost universal support for women to pursue careers or political office,” “women get[ting] more education than men,” and “young people are much more accepting of people not identifying as either a man or a woman.

In a national report for Ms. Magazine, Brittany Dernberger and Joanna Pepin acknowledge that “continued gender inequality at home and at work is frequently explained by a lack of “family-friendly” policies,” such as equal pay, affordable childcare, and paid family leave, but they are “not the only barrier[s] to manifesting equitable relationships.” The two also point out that “if young people desire conventional arrangements” they must also acknowledge the “consequences to maintaining the status quo.” This is due to the fact that “women who disproportionately shoulder the burden of family duties while contributing to the family budget, report lower relationship satisfaction, greater stress and exhaustion and increased drug and alcohol use.”

According to Dernberger and Pepin, these reports support the idea that “feminist advocacy goals must incorporate economic justice, advocate for family-friendly policies and champion policies that explicitly aim to promote gender equality.” And as noted by Miller, “making relationships more equal inside the home could have far-reaching effects outside of it, too.”

Sources: The New York Times 2/11; Ms. Magazine 1/28; Gallup 1/29; Sociological Science 1/21

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