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Stay at Home Parent, What Are Your Attidudes? Gender Beliefs

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

A very clever experiment was recently conducted by a science blogger named Dave Munger whose brief study was reported on an interesting web site known as "Cognitive Daily." His original article and findings can be found at: http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/ His experiment involved having subjects read a story about a person named "Jordan." The purpose of the study was to learn whether people would have biases towards parents based on whether they worked outside the home or stayed at home. The number of subjects in the study was 1200. Based on the version of this story they were given to read subjects were asked about the number of hours that "Jordan" worked.

You see, Jordan is a name that could be either male or female. Based on what the subjects read they drew conclusions about the number of hours that "Jordan" worked. "Jordan was a working Mom or Dad whether He or She worked inside or outside of the home. The results were graphed to demonstrate existing assumptions and biases based on gender. Women, or mothers came out looking rather bad. Here is why:

First, those subjects who read that Jordan was a Father Who Worked Outside the Home assumed that he worked more hours than Mother Who Worked Outside the home.

Second, those who read that Jordan was a Stay at Home Dad assumed that he worked more hours than Mother who was a Stay at home Mom.

Third, and this is the clincher, those who read that Jordan was a Stay at Home Dad assumed that he worked more hours than Mother worked outside of the home.

Fourth, Stay at Home Mothers were assumed to work less than Mother or Fathers who work outside of the home.

The bias revealed in the study is that working women, whether they are employed inside or outside of the home work less than men.

What does all of this mean?

For one, the study seems to reveal gender bias in that women were perceived as working less than men, whether they worked in or outside of the home.

Second, those who work at home seem to be viewed as people who work less. Does this reveal a stigma attached to anyone who works at home? It is difficult to know from this study, but if that is true it is troubling in an age where, thanks to computer technology, more people than ever are able to conduct business from their home.

We know that women are reported to suffer more depression than men and there is a lot of speculation about why. For one, it is thought that female hormones and the menstrual cycle play a part in this. However, is it possible that women experience more depression than men because they have to cope with negative attitudes towards them as women?

What are your thoughts and experiences with regard to this issue? Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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