Dads more likely to question gender stereotypes if they have a daughter who is school aged.
Fathers are less likely to hold traditional attitudes towards gender roles if they have a school-age daughter, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The study, published by Oxford Economic Papers, analysed the effects of becoming the parent of a daughter on both men and women.
The authors found strong evidence that having daughters decreases fathers’ likelihood to hold traditional attitudes towards gender roles, a trend that became particularly pronounced when daughters reached school-age.
They found that father’s likelihood to support traditional gender roles typically declined by 8% when their daughters were in primary school, possibly because this coincides with the period where children experience a stronger social pressure to conform to gender norms, and by 11% when their daughters reached secondary school. Comparatively, the effect of having a daughter on mother’s attitudes was not significant. The authors speculate that this is because they are less likely to hold traditional views generally and are more likely to have experience of the impact of negative gender stereotypes.
In addition to changes in attitudes amongst fathers, the authors found behavioural change occurred, with parents of school-age daughters less likely to follow a traditional gender division of work.
The authors write: “Through parenting, fathers of daughters may develop a better understanding of women’s and girls’ disadvantages in society, resulting in a significant shift in their attitudes towards gender norms.”
Co-author Dr Joan Costa-Font of LSE’s Department of Health Policy, said: “The study shows that attitudes rather than fixed over time, can change later in life. This is a very promising finding that suggests that exposure to others’ circumstances can help shape behaviour.”