Recent trends indicate substantial changes in the labour-force status of women in Western industrialized societies. Many studies indicate that shifts in sex-role attitudes have apparently accompanied these changes, but research has not focused on the specific conditions under which men and women approve of non-familial roles for women. Moreover, virtually no comparative research exists on this topic. In this paper, data for three Western countries-the former West Germany, Great Britain, and the United States-are compared with respect to attitudes toward female labour-force participation. The data, taken from the 1988 ISSP (International Social Survey Program) module on the family, focus specifically on the conditions under which respondents approve of women working. Results indicate that the attitudes of both men and women reflect substantial preference for a primary familial role for women, especially when young children are present. Intra-country patterns of predictable variation in attitudes are quite similar in the countries considered: attitudes favouring the labour-force involvement of women are associated with gender,labour-force experience, schooling, and birth cohort. Inter-country differences can in part be explained by normative differences in labour-force participation rates of women and perceptions of the suitability of child-care resources, but most of the inter-country differences were unexplained by the factors considered and are thought to be due to unmeasured normative and institutional factors associated with the care and nurture of children.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||European Sociological Review|
|State||Published - May 1992|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science