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Despite Benefits, Gender Equality May Not Carry Over to Next Generation

A study of two generations suggests improving equality within a marriage benefits family life and male careers.

The Swedish study, initiated in the 1970s, emphasized share responsibility among couples for home, family, and work. A recent follow-up shows that the couples’ strive for equality was beneficial not only for the family life but also for the fathers’ careers.

Nevertheless, despite being raised in an egalitarian environment, the sons of couples in the study, now themselves parents, have not chosen the same path of shared responsibilities.

“Patterns do not pass on to the next generation as easily as we might have believed,” said Margunn Bjørnholt, Ph.D., researcher in Gender Studies at Örebro University.

The Work-Sharing Couples project, led by the late Norwegian sociologist Dr. Erik Grønseth, involved 16 couples all living in Norway.

Both partners worked part-time, spent the same amount of time at home, and shared the household tasks equally.

“The participating couples reveal that this has been good for their relationship and for the family as a whole,” said Bjørnholt. “On top of that the men did not feel that the change has had any negative effect on their work, even though they went against the flow and worked less hours than other men.

“On the contrary, they thought it had been beneficial, because the responsibility they took at home was highly valued in the workplace,” she said.

Researchers believe the research shows that the time the fathers spent at home was viewed as management experience.

Despite the positive effects for family life and career, however, the follow-up study shows that the second generation, the participants’ sons, have not chosen the same kind of life.

Bjørnholt found that the children are now parents themselves and live in neo-traditional families.

In these families both parents work and both take responsibility at home. But the woman takes more responsibility for the family and the man focuses to a greater extent on work outside the home.

The message is that modeling of family behaviors may not translate into generational change as the environment may influence or trump social behavior.

“Like father, like son is not the case in this instance,’ said Bjørnholt. “The surrounding society, structures as well as social and historical conditions play a decisive role.”

Source: Örebro University

Despite Benefits, Gender Equality May Not Carry Over to Next Generation

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Despite Benefits, Gender Equality May Not Carry Over to Next Generation. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 13 Oct 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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