Erica Johnson's Senior Thesis

The Relationship Between Mother's Employment
and Children's Gender Roles and Stereotypes

Erica L. Johnson, Saint Anslem College, Class of 2001

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    This study examines the gender roles and stereotypes of children in relation to their mother's employment status ranging from "stay at home" to a professional level career. A review of the literature suggests that children will form more androgynous, both male and female, gender roles when their mother works outside the home.  It was also expected that mothers in high status positions would have children who reported even more androgynous gender role scores and fewer stereotypes about the opposite sex as their mother would be in a nontraditional role.
    The Children's Sex Role Inventory (CSRI) (Boldizar, 1991) was used to measure the gender roles and stereotypes of fifth and eighth grade students from a large middle-school in an average sized New England town.  A total of 49 participants (age 10 to 15 years), 23 males and 26 females, were given the CSRI twice to measure the gender roles and stereotypes of the participants.  The CSRI scores were compared to the level of the mother's employment.  A MANOVA was run comparing grade, gender and the employment status of the children's mothers to their CSRI scores.  No significance was found related to mother's employment.  A two (gender) by two (grade) MANOVA was conducted to assess the total difference in scores on the CSRI between groups.  There was significance found for gender F(1,28)=18.61, p<.05 and for grade, F(1,28)=8.70, p<.05, however no significant interaction was reported between gender and grade on total difference on the CSRI.  Both males and females scored the opposite sex in ways which would indicate stereotyping.   In terms of gender roles boys reported higher feminine scores than masculine scores regardless of mother's employment.  Girls reported androgynous scores, scoring themselves high on both the masculine and feminine scales.  Contrary to prediction, girls of stay at home mom's demonstrated more androgynous scores than girls from dual-career families when the means were compared.  Eighth graders reported more stereotyping than fifth graders.  A comparison of the means indicates that especially, eighth grade girls demonstrate a change in gender roles and stereotypes from fifth through eighth grade.  This supports the literature that as children age they become more sex-typed and report more stereotypes.
    The results of this study indicate contrary results.  Although mother's employment did not seem to effect gender role development, clearly gender roles and stereotypes are being formed.
Review of the Literature Results References
Method Discussion Links

Review of the Literature

    With growing numbers of women in the workforce it is not surprising that concerns have been raised regarding the effects this will have upon children.  The United States Census Bureau (1999) reported the number of married, working mothers in 1998 to be 18.1 million up from 6.6 million in 1960.  Seven million-seven hundred thousand of those women working have children under the age of six years.  Not only are more women working but they are taking on high status occupations which were once thought to be predominantly male.  In 1983, 5.8 percent of engineers were women, in 1998 this figure rose to 11.1 percent.   The number of women lawyers and physicians has risen from 15.3 and 15.8 percent in 1983 to 28.5 and 26.6 percent in 1998, respectively (US Census Bureau, 1999).  Questions and concerns have been raised as to the impact maternal employment will have on child development.  Traditional gender roles are being challenged as more and more women are proving that they can balance motherhood and work and men are taking on household chores.  What effect is this having on the development of gender roles in children?
     This study will explore the gender roles and stereotypes of children in relation to their mother's employment status.  This study also investigates the change that occurs during early adolescence by comparing fifth and eighth graders survey scores.  The literature reports that seventh grade marks a change in gender role formation as children begin to adopt roles more in accordance with their own sex (Alfieri, Ruble & Higgins, 1996).  Theories of gender formation will be explored such as Bandura's social learning theory and Bem's gender schema theory in order to understand how children adopt these roles.  If it is found that a relationship exists between mother's employment and her children's gender roles and stereotypes then it is possible that these gender roles and stereotypes can be reduced with the expansion of women in prominent employment positions.  This study will also explore other aspects of mother's employment in relation to children's reported gender roles and stereotypes, such as percent female in the mother's occupational field and whether the mother is employed part-time or full-time.
     Gender identity development is the association that the child makes with persons of the same sex which leads to defining oneself as male or female.  Biologically the child understands that he or she is a boy or girl around age three when the child can identify himself as a boy or girl (Kohlberg & Ullman, 1974).  Understandably, it is necessary that a child be able to identify him/herself to be of a particular sex in order to develop the gender roles of that sex.  Kohlberg and Ullman (1974) explain that the child must not only identify his/her sex but understand that it is permanent in order to later develop the gender roles associated with that sex.  After a year the child is able to pick out of a picture of a man and woman, who is mommy and who is daddy.  At eighteen months the child understands that there are two distinct sexes and at two to three years of age knows which sex category he or she is a member of (Belotti, 1976).    Lawrence Kohlberg and Ullman (1974) developed a cognitive developmental model to explain the development of sex roles beginning with identity development.  The child begins by categorizing him/herself as a boy or girl.  Kohlberg and Ullman (1974) view gender as the only category which the child, with limited cognitive ability, can relate to all others through.  This is significant in that the child's sex gives him/her a sense of belonging.  The entire developmental process is not complete until after age six or seven as the child is cognitively unable to view his or her sex as permanent until that age.  Once the child has categorized him/herself, the child begins to value same sex behaviors and objects positively, desiring to further enmesh him/herself into his/her own sex category.  At this point gender role formation begins to permeate the child's self concept.   The girl, then, can be seen as saying 'I'm a girl; therefore I want to do girl things.'  Doing 'girl' things becomes rewarding in itself, as children are reinforced for gender appropriate behaviors  (Kohlberg & Ullman, 1974).
     Once the child has come to identify him/herself as permanently male or female through the process of gender identity development the child enters the developmental stage of gender role formation.  In this stage the child adopts the gender roles that are specific to his/her sex.  Although identity begins as a matter of biological difference, cultural expectations soon emerge and bring with them differences which are often repeated and accepted in daily life.  These beliefs build the foundation for gender roles and stereotypes.  The concepts of masculinity and femininity have been defined by society and reinforced both positively and negatively by society.  (Deaux & Major, 1990).  Just as we are able to label aggressive persons and independent persons we label those who are considered masculine and feminine based on our stereotypes of what each constitutes (Deaux & Major, 1990).  These stereotypes are seen as stable and are used to explain those behaviors which fall within the stereotype.  For example, if a woman cries it is okay because she is vulnerable and sensitive just as the definition of feminine has come to mean.  If a man cries he is looked upon as weak and his action is considered to be socially unacceptable.  Deaux and Major (1990) use the term self-fulfilling prophecy to explain how individuals accept the beliefs of the culture and behave in ways which support the stereotypic beliefs.  The term self-fulfilling prophecy indicates that when enough people hold a certain view of a person that that person will eventually fulfill the view or expectation (Geis, 1993).  Deaux and Major (1990) also explain behavior as varying in ways which portray a more favorable image.  One may display a feminine quality to impress another although it may not be a stable personality trait for that person.  People tend to make decisions to act in a way which is considered more socially acceptable.
Imitation Theory
     Other theorists emphasize imitation as a factor which leads to the development of gender roles and stereotypes.  Just as children learn to speak by imitation, they also learn to imitate the behaviors of the person whom they are in closest contact with and is biologically similar to themselves (Belotti, 1978).  The same sex parent therefore becomes the object of the child's attention.  The child learns to relate to the same sex parent as the girl is given a doll while the boy a car.  Caring for the doll symbolizes maternity causing the girl to relate more readily to the mother.  The boy learns to identify with dad and imitates him (Belotti, 1978).  Unknowingly, parents and society socialize children into roles which are gender appropriate.   Shaping of behavior occurs through rewarding appropriate behaviors or punishing behaviors that are inappropriate to the child's gender.  Labels such as 'big boy' and 'sissy' can acquire secondary reinforcement qualities that aid in giving the child a sense of what is expected (Weitz, 1977).  The gender roles that the child adopts stem from having imitated those behaviors that were displayed and reinforced by the people that the child is close to.  Having learned what gender the child is in the early stages of gender identity development the child understands that it is more reinforcing to model the behaviors of the same sex parent.
Identification Theory
     Identification theory is similar to imitation theory.  Kagan (1970) describes his theory of identification as the way in which children come to model the behaviors that are considered gender appropriate by modeling their parents.  As the child learns to identify with the same sex parent, the child will then imitate that parent.  Through interactions with others the child learns what sex role is expected and accustoms himself to act in accordance with that expectation.  The child is not only identifying with the same sex parent but also being reinforced for actions which are in agreement with those of that parent.   Jerome Kagan (1970) takes this socialization a step further than just saying that the child models the behaviors of the same sex parent.  Kagan believes that the child identifies with the same sex parent because the child believes that by modeling the parent he or she will grow up to possess the same qualities and attributes as that parent.
Social Learning Theory
     Bandura's (1963) social learning theory involves many of the factors that are present in other theories.  Bandura's theory perceives sex role identity to be a result of cumulative experience.  Socialization agents such as parents, teachers and peers shape children's gender-related behaviors through modeling, expectations, toy choices, reinforcement and punishment of gender appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, and by treating boys and girls differently from one another.  Empirical research has been found to support imitation, identi- fication and social learning theory.  Children have been found to desire the same characteristics in their own lives as have been demonstrated by their parents.
     A linear relationship between mothers' and children's attitudes toward mother's employment was found supporting Kagan's gender identification theory (Starrels, 1992).  Mothers in traditional roles who stayed at home with the children, had children who reported that mothers should stay at home with the children, while children whose mothers worked reported that they too would work when they had children.  Possible explanations are that if children are satisfied in their own development they will report that it is the best way to raise children.  Castellino, Lerner, Lerner and von Eye (1998) found that maternal employment and level of education had a positive influence on children's career trajectories as children had similar goals as their mothers.  Especially in girls, maternal employment can be seen as a link to future employment aspirations.  Stephan and Corder (1985) state that as more children are from dual career families they too will form dual career families creating a positive feedback loop.  Therefore, the incidence of dual career families is on the rise as well as egalitarian sex-role attitudes and behaviors.  Empirical research supports both identification, imitation and social learning theory as agents leading to gender role formation.  These studies also support the idea that mothers employment could influence the gender roles of her children.  Daughters, while influenced more by their mother's career choice, as they model their mother, may especially be influenced in their gender roles.
Gender Schema Theory
     Sandra Bem is a significant figure in gender formation research.   Her gender schema theory (1993) is used to explain how children come to adopt the social structure of society and in turn learn to value its gender stereotypes as well.  Similar to social learning theory, gender schema theory contains two fundamental presuppositions about gender formation.  First, that there are what she calls "gender lenses" in cultural practice that become internalized by the child throughout development.  Secondly, once the gender lenses are internalized then the child is predisposed to construct an identity and self-concept that is consistent with those lenses (Bem, 1993).  More clearly, as children learn to model the ideas that society values they evaluate their own behaviors and judge other's behaviors in accordance with cultural definition.   This establishes the basis of stereotype formation.  It becomes more acceptable to follow societal expectation themselves and they expect it from others as well.  As society feeds children information regarding gender roles, through movies, television and adult interactions, children take it in willingly without questioning it.  What children are seeing is that boys are more valued than girls and they adopt attitudes similar to this belief (Bem, 1993).
     Bem (1993) divides the possible gender types into three categories.  Those known to be gender polarized have adopted either predominantly masculine or feminine gender roles.  These people have adopted the cultural expectation of gender appropriateness.  Undifferentiated persons demonstrate few behaviors which are considered either masculine or feminine.  They have avoided adopting strong gender roles in either direction.  Persons who are androgynous demonstrate both masculine and feminine personality traits.  One is androgynous when they have self concepts that simultaneously incorporate masculine and feminine characteristics defined by the culture or by having self-concepts that are not intermixed with cultural definitions of gender appropriateness (Bem, 1993).  Research seems to suggest that there are benefits to being androgynous.  Mary Pipher (1994), for instance, writes to have found androgynous persons to be more well-adjusted as adults than those who are not.  It is also possible that androgynous persons will see more career opportunities as fewer jobs will be seen as gender specific.
 Each theory plays a crucial role in development of gender roles.  Each theory overlaps to explain how each socialization factor such as mother, father, toys, teacher, television, etc. plays a role in shaping the child's gender.  A great number of studies have been conducted as to the gender roles and stereotypes adolescents display, many of which support the above theories and others which do not.  The current study investigates whether maternal employment can act as a positive socializing agent.  Is there a relationship between having an employed mother and possessing a less defined gender role and stereotype measure?  Further, does having a mother in a higher status employment position further reduce these gender roles and stereotypes?  Many studies of empirical research say yes.
     Empirical research on the effects mother's employment has on her children has been conducted in recent years primarily due to the increasing numbers of women in the work force and in higher status positions.  These jobs require higher levels of education and may also create less time for mothers to spend with their children.  For this reason, many studies have been conducted to analyze the effects having a working mother has on children.  The studies conducted have been predominantly using maternal employment (whether the mother works outside the home or not) as the independent variable.  Late adolescent women were found to report higher levels of self esteem when mothers worked in nontraditional careers (Keith, 1988).   Castellino, Lerner, Lerner and von Eye (1998) report that having fewer gender role stereotypes may prove profitable when choosing an occupation as more careers will be seen as options.
     Women have been consistently found to have more egalitarian beliefs when their mother works.  Kiecolt and Acock (1988) found women to be more supportive of political opportunities for women and to reject traditional gender roles when their mothers worked.  These researchers also found a stronger relationship between mothers' educational level and more egalitarian sex role attitudes.  Gardner and LaBrecque (1986) found that when high school seniors took a sex role inventory that there was a significant difference in scores of seniors of full-time employed mothers in comparison to full-time homemakers.  Those seniors of full-time employed mothers were found to have more liberal scores, advocating nontraditional gender roles.  Females were found to favor nontraditional gender roles more so than males regardless of maternal employment status.  They suggest that the findings may be due to being exposed to shared roles at home as the both parents are needed to smoothly run the household (Gardner & LaBrecque, 1986).
     In contrast to the above findings, sex role differences were not found to be impacted by maternal employment in a study of late adolescent college students (Keith, 1988).  In that study it was found that children from two-career families were likely to desire two career families for themselves in the future.  However, sons of higher status employed women reported that they wanted wives who would not work when their children were born (Keith, 1988).  Late adolescent boys were less likely to desire their wives to work after having children when their mothers were in higher status occupations. The study does not offer an explanation, but suggests the possibility that sons may perceive two-career families to be high in stress causing them to opt for more traditional family styles.  Willetts-Bloom and Nock (1994) found that there was no relationship between mothers working and more egalitarian gender role attitudes in undergraduate college students.  They also found that neither prestige of the mother's occupation nor the percent of females in the field was significantly related to gender attitudes.  This could be accounted for by the fact that the subjects were in college therefore, they were interested in higher levels of employment and the women probably interested in more nontraditional careers.  These students may also have had higher than average socioeconomic status and have been exposed to people from a variety of high status positions.  College students are also exposed to college professors who tend to be proportionally male and female.  The current study investigates the gender role attitudes of fifth and eighth graders of an average income city.  Being from a place of average socioeconomic status and at this age (10-15 years) their exposure to people and careers may not be as wide nor as limiting.
     Due to the discrepancy within the studies of maternal employment's effects on gender role attitudes, more research must be conducted.  Little research has been done to investigate the relationship between the actual status of the mother's occupation and children's gender role attitudes.  Much of the research deals with mother's who work either inside or outside the home rather than on the status of the employment.  The research also tends to focus on men and women around the age of nineteen.  Research findings by Kiecolt and Acock (1988) suggest that maternal employment has more of an effect on gender role attitudes in adolescence than in early childhood.  It has been found that around the seventh grade children begin to act more in accordance with society's conceptions of gender roles (Alfieri, Ruble & Higgins, 1996; Pipher, 1994).  This may be due to the increasing interest in the opposite sex which occurs in this time period and the increased interaction across gender.  Each sex is more likely to act in accordance with the self-fulfilling prophecy theory by acting in accordance with societal gender expectations.  This time may also supply children with their earliest experience in gender stereotypes as they can are able to identify differences between their actions and that of the opposite sex.  Pipher (1994) further states that especially in girls, that math, science and IQ scores drop considerably in early adolescence.  Along with their academic performance girls lose their assertive, energetic and 'tomboyish' personalities and become more focused on their body and are more likely to be depressed.  This study will investigate the gender roles of participants before and after this critical point in adolescent development by surveying fifth and eighth graders.
     How are gender roles effected by maternal employment previous to this reported change in early adolescence and afterward?  Most of the research that does exist neglects to examine how each sex perceives the other in terms of gender stereotypes.  If a relationship is found to exist between maternal employment and gender roles and stereotypes, then it is possible to reduce the effects of socialization or to increase the positive effects through increased interaction with one's mother and her career.  Imitation is the theory most relevant to the current study.  If children are found to adopt less traditional gender roles and stereotypes when their mother works, they are adopting roles that are more in accordance with their family (particularly influenced by mother's employment status) than that of society.  Implications for this could be that future generations have less gender roles and stereotypes and that males and females will be considered more equal.  Maternal employment, if found to produce more nontraditional gender role attitudes, will also produce less gender stereotypes among pre-seventh grade and post-seventh grade students.  The research suggests that as maternal employment status increases scores of androgyny, having both masculine and feminine scores will be reported by children will increase for themselves as well as of the opposite sex in comparison to children of mothers who are not employed.



     Parental consent forms were distributed to 50 fifth graders and 50 eighth graders (see Appendix A).  Age of participants ranged from 10-15 years of age.  Twenty-two, fifth graders and 5 eighth graders obtained parental permission.  The parent questionnaire was again distributed to another 50 eighth graders of which 32 were returned indicating consent.  Sixteen fifth graders reported living in a two-parent home and could therefore supply data to the study, 7 were male and 9 female.  Out of the 34 possible eighth graders fitting criteria of 2 parents in the home, 16 were chosen randomly for comparison purposes (seven males and 9 females).  The students were from a rural middle-school housing fifth through 8th grade in a New England town.  The participants were further divided into those with an employed mother (by status) either not working outside the home; working in a blue collar job; working in a pink collar or support staff career; or holding a professional level job based upon their children's reports on a questionnaire.
     The Children's Sex Roles Inventory-Short Form (CSRI), developed by Janet Boldizar in 1991 was used to measure androgyny (see Appendix B).  The CSRI lists twenty characteristics which are culturally defined as gender appropriate, ten are masculine statements and ten are feminine.  Ten fillers are also presented in the CSRI.  The CSRI was created by Boldizar to model the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) created by Sandra Bem in 1971.  The CSRI makes use of the adjectives used in the BSRI, such as "independent" and "compassionate" by putting them into sentence form in a way which makes them more comprehensive for children.  For example, the BSRI uses the word "assertive", the CSRI uses "It's easy for me to tell people what I think, even when I know they will probably disagree with me" (Boldizar, 1991; p. 5).  Participants are asked to respond to the statements by rating themselves on the following four-point scale: 1 = not at all true of me, 2 = a little true of me, 3 = mostly true of me, 4 = very true of me.   The CSRI has demonstrated high construct validity which was demonstrated by measures of sex-typed toy and activity preference, self-perceptions of global self-worth, scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical attractiveness, behavioral conduct and cognitive performance (Boldizar, 1991).  The CSRI reports a reliability of alpha = .81 on internal consistency.  The CSRI short form highly correlates with the original form at r = .84 (Boldizar, 1991).  The CSRI also correlates with the BSRI (r = .88) and therefore can be used to assess children's gender roles at a comparable level to those of adults taking the BSRI.  In addition to the CSRI given to measure children's gender roles, another form was given to the participants to measure stereotypes.  In order to measure stereotypes the CSRI statements were changed from "I" statements to statements which questioned their likeness of the opposite sex.  Statements such as "I can control a lot of the kids in my class" were changed to "Females can control a lot of the kids in their class" for males to respond to and "Males can control a lot of the kids in their class" for females to respond to.  The CSRI was not intended to be used in this way therefore there is no report on the validity or reliability although it would seem to have not changed greatly from that of the CSRI.
     In addition to the CSRI, a questionnaire was given to the students in order to assess background information regarding themselves and their families (see Appendix C).  In addition to measuring maternal employment, participant's age when the mother began working, mother's educational level, participant's projected educational attainment and career plans were also assessed in the questionnaire and measured as variables.
     First the child consent form was distributed to the students (see Appendix D) and read aloud to them in order for them to give assent in addition to the parental consent that had been received prior to the  testing date.  After students signed the child consent form it was collected.  The researcher distributed a packet containing the background information questionnaire and the CSRI self and the CSRI of the opposite sex of the participant to a group of students in a classroom.  The questionnaire was read aloud to the fifth graders in order to assist their reading ability.  The test was later repeated similarly to other classrooms of fifth and eighth grade students.  The directions were read aloud to the participants from an experimental script (see Appendix E) so as to eliminate any miscommunication or bias.  The participants were asked to respond to what degree the statements on the CSRI characterizes himself or herself.  This measure was used to interpret the participants' gender roles.  A second copy of the CSRI was given, in which the participant was asked to respond as he/she believed was characteristic of the opposite sex.  This measure was used to evaluate sex role stereotypes.
     Upon completion of the survey participants were debriefed as to the exact nature of the study (see Appendix F).



     In order to determine if there was a difference in how children rated themselves on the Children's Sex Role Inventory (CSRI) and how they ranked the opposite sex, the two scores were subtracted to find the difference reported for self and opposite sex.  In order to assess the relationship between mother's employment and her children's gender roles and stereotypes, maternal employment status was ranked by 1= stay at home mom; 2= blue collar profession; 3= pink collar or support staff; 4= professional level.  Level of the occupation was determined using the Statistical Abstract of the United States, issued by the US Census Bureau (1999).  A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was run to assess the relationship between mother's employment and her child's gender roles whether male or female on the CSRI.  Another MANOVA was run surveying the change that took place over time, by comparing the scores reported by fifth and eighth graders.  Correlations were run to analyze relationships between scores of participants in relation to various factors of  their mother's employment such as whether she works part-time or full-time and how long she had been in the workforce.  The percentage female in the field of the mother's employment was also calculated using the Statistical Abstract of the United States (US Census Bureau, 1999) and a correlation run for children's CSRI scores.

     Mother's employment did not seem to be a factor in reported differences between masculine, feminine and neutral difference scores between self and opposite sex regardless of gender.  One reason for lack of significant findings could be the small subject size reported for the stay at home moms (n=3).   This result is contradictory to the proposed hypothesis that as maternal employment status goes up that children will report less gender stereotypes.  These children reported gender stereotypes overall regardless of mother's employment.

Mean scores by gender on Children's Sex Role Inventory (CSRI) sub scales of masculinity, femininity, and total differences between self scores and opposite sex scores in comparison to mother's employment status.
Mothers employment      Masc.      Fem.     Op. Masc.     Op. Fem.     Total Masc.     Total Fem.    Total Dif.
Total Males
     N=23                        2.60         2.96         3.00            3.48             -.406                -.517           -1.39
1.00  N= 1                     2.40         3.40         3.10            3.80             -.700                -.400           -2.10
2.00  N= 3                     2.30         2.57         2.80            3.33             -.500                -.767           -1.80
3.00  N= 10                   2.87         2.81         2.95            3.39             -.080                -.580           -.980
4.00  N= 9                     2.81         3.07         3.16            3.39             -.344                -.322           -.689
Total Females
     N=26                        2.89          3.58         3.34            2.53             -.447                -1.05             .325
1.00  N= 3                     3.00          3.77         3.73            2.93             -.733                 .833            -.133
2.00  N= 6                     2.87          3.60         3.33            2.45             -.467                 1.15             .283
3.00  N= 8                     2.78          3.40         2.88            2.30             -.100                 1.10             .763
4.00  N= 9                     2.93          3.54         3.42            2.43             -.489                 1.11             .389
Mothers employment status:
1= stay at home; 2= blue collar; 3= pink collar; 4= professional/white collar
CSRI scores:
1= not at all true of me; 2= a little true of me; 3= mostly true of me; 4= very true of me
Masc.= scores on the masculine statements for self
Fem.= scores on the feminine statements for self
Op. Masc.= scores on the masculine statements for the opposite sex
Op. Fem.= scores on the feminine statements for the opposite sex
Total Masc.= masculine self statements - masculine opposite sex statements
Total Fem.= feminine self statements - feminine opposite sex statements
Total Dif.= masculine/feminine self statements - masculine/feminine opposite sex statements

     A two (gender) by two (grade) MANOVA was conducted to assess the total difference in scores on the CSRI between groups.  There was significance found for gender F(1,28)=18.61, p<.05 and for grade, F(1,28)=8.70, p<.05, however no significant interaction was reported between gender and grade on total difference on the CSRI.  In looking at the means eighth graders were more likely to support gender differences.  They reported greater differences between themselves and the opposite sex.  The mean difference for fifth grade was .375 meaning that they scored the opposite sex differently than themselves yet the eighth graders scored the opposite sex more differently reporting a mean of -.625.  A review of the means indicates that both male and female eighth graders reported stereotypes in their scoring with girls also reporting higher gender roles than males.  Additionally, it was found that males were more likely to report differences on the CSRI with a mean of -.936 while females had a mean difference of -.506.   Males actually did not demonstrate stereotypes but rather the opposite.  Males scored females higher on the masculinity statements causing the large difference and the findings of significance. Females scored males higher on the feminine questions and also accounts for some of the reported difference.

Mean difference in total scores on the CSRI for gender and grade.
               Mean           SD           F
5th          .375            1.08        8.70*

8th        -.625             1.26
Male       -.936           1.08       18.61*

Female   -.506            1.01
Note. * p< .05
 Higher, negative scores indicate the presence of stereotypes

    This supports the hypothesis that the older the child the more likely they are to adopt gender roles and stereotypes that are in accordance with societal expectation.  In addition to total differences reported, significance was reported for gender on the feminine scales, F(1,28)= 76.67,p<.05.   Girls reported higher gender roles which was indicated by their mean scores on the feminine statements and they were more likely to give males low scores on the feminine questions suggesting the presence of stereotypes.

Mean difference in feminine scores on the CSRI for gender and grade.
               Mean       SD       F
5th           .619       .853    1.57

8th           .413       .958
Male       -.336      .537    76.67*

Female     1.18      .436
Note. * p< .05
 Higher negative scores indicate the presence of stereotypes

    Neutral statements evoked some emotion as grade was a factor in how children responded F(1,28)=9.23, p<.05.  No significance was reported for the masculine statements for grade or gender.  Interestingly when comparing the means, males scored higher on the feminine questions than they did on the masculine questions.

     The age at which the mother began working outside the home was shown to be approaching significance (r=-.233, p>.10) in terms of her children CSRI scores.  The longer the mother worked outside the home the more likely the child was to report differences between self and the opposite sex on the CSRI.  This would indicate that the younger the child is when the mother begins working the less they stereotype.  This supports the hypothesis that children with working mothers will report fewer stereotypes.  Total scores on the CSRI were also correlated for both males and females with the career that they chose to enter into in the future r=.258, p<.10.  This would indicate, contrary to expectation, that children who reported more traditional career plans presented with fewer stereotypes.  Although males and females combined did not have a relationship in scores to socioeconomic status, male scores were correlated r=.428, p<.05.  This supports the hypothesis that the greater the socioeconomic status (i.e. higher levels of employment) the less likely males were to stereotype the opposite sex.

Correlations between total difference on CSRI scores by gender on variables related to mother's employment.
                                   Mom's Occ.     % Fem.     Age Work     SES     Ch. % Fem.
Males and Females
 Total dif.                         .110              .116          -.233++       .084         .258+
Males Only
 Total dif.                         .358              .104          -.304            .428*       .217
Females Only
 Total dif.                         .164               .148          -.251           .167        -.115
Note: * = p<.05
            + = p<.10
            ++ = approaching p<.10
Mom's Occ. = mother's occupational status
% Fem. = the percentage of women in the mother's occupational field
Age Work = age child was when mother began working outside the home
SES = socioeconomic status
Ch. % Fem. = percentage female in the field of the child's future career choice



      The hypothesis of this study was that mother's employment would predict the gender roles and gender stereotypes of her children.  As mother's employment status increased from non- working to professional level work it was predicted that the gender roles and stereotypes of her children would decrease.  This hypothesis was not supported in this study.  The hypothesis that grade and age would also be predictors of scores reported on the Children's Sex Role Inventory (CSRI) was validated in some cases in this study.  The literature has stated that stronger gender roles are adopted around grade seven (Alfieri, Ruble & Higgins, 1996), therefore this study chose to examine the differences in fifth and eighth graders scores on the CSRI.  As predicted by the literature eighth graders were more likely to stereotype than were fifth graders overall on all sub scales; masculinity, femininity and neutral combined.  Girls were more likely than boys to stereotype the opposite sex, regardless of grade.
     The main hypothesis, that mother's employment status would be a predictor of gender roles and stereotypes, was not supported in this study.  One major reason was due to the fact that only four students reported having a "stay at home mom" out of a sample of 49 students and three happened to be reported by female participants.  This would not allow for accurate comparison across mother's employment status nor across gender.  Whether the participant's mother worked part-time or full-time also had no significant impact on the gender roles or stereotypes reported.  Again the sample size for part-time working mothers was considerably smaller than for full-time employed mothers.  Twelve participants reported having a part-time working mother whereas 33 reported full-time.
 In addition to the status of the mother's employment on a ranking of stay at home to professional level, the percent female in the mother's job was calculated.  A correlation was run to assess the relationship between percent female of mother's employment and the total difference reported on the CSRI between the self and the opposite sex on all sub scales.  No significant findings were found.  This would indicate that having a mother in a traditional or nontraditional female career would not influence children's gender roles and stereotypes.  The average percent female of the mother's occupation was reported to be 77.1% and was calculated using US Census Report data (1999).
     It was expected in this study and the findings of other studies of mother's employment that in addition to status of the employment position, how often the mother worked, and the percentage of females in the mother's career field would impact children's gender roles.  Although no significant findings were found the means were inspected to see if they were in the predicted direction.  Interestingly, upon further exploration of the mother's employment in relation to the mean scores on the CSRI, it was found that girls whose mothers did not work reported the highest levels of androgyny.  They scored higher on the feminine and masculine questions than did children from dual-career families.  Similarly, children from dual-career families reported more gender stereotypes.  The results of this study are contrary to those reported by Kiecolt and Acock (1988) who found that women are more likely to reject traditional gender roles when their mother worked.  Similar results were found in a study by Gardner and LaBrecque (1986) who found that high school seniors reported a significant difference in scores between children of full-time employed mother's and full-time homemakers as children of full-time working mother's reported less traditional gender roles.  This study found the opposite, although not significant more androgynous scores were reported by daughters of stay at home moms.  On average the children in this study, regardless of mother's employment reported that they knew and understood the gender expectations of the opposite sex as they reported scores indicating gender stereotypes.
     Many factors could account for the fact that contrary to the literature, percent female, time spent working and mother's status of employment did not make a significant difference in gender role or stereotype formation.  Many of the children did not know what their mothers roles specifically were at work.  They asked questions such as "My mom is a nurse, did she go to college?"  Children who never see their mom at work probably would not understand the importance of her job in a way in which it would impact them at this age.  It would be interesting to compare results of this survey to a survey given after the children had gone to work with mom for a day.  At this age it also seems that children do not have a concept of what careers are considered male or female and therefore may not be influenced by the percent female of their mother's employment.  Oftentimes mothers who work attempt to balance that they are outside of the home most of the day with feelings of guilt by doing all of the household chores (Garey, 1999).  Future research should investigate children's gender roles in relation to how parents split household responsibilities.  Stay at home mothers may be taking over many chores inside and outside the home because they are home more often.  They may play the role of both parents more than mothers who work.
     The fact that there was no significance between children of mothers working part-time and mothers working full-time could be accounted for by the fact that the children are in school during the hours mom is at work.  This study did not ask this question but assumes that the large majority of the participants had mothers who worked traditional hours.  "Stay at home moms" spend only a few hours more per week with their children than do mother's who work outside the home (Eyer, 1996).  Mom probably fulfills all of the child's morning needs and nighttime needs whether she works full-time or part-time.  Younger children who do not yet attend school and spend time at day-care probably would demonstrate more differences.  Questions such as how much time the child spends at day-care or home alone may produce differences in children's gender roles because it would influence their view of their mother's career, either positively or negatively.  All but one of the children responded that they intended to have a husband or wife who worked outside the home which may indicate that they are satisfied with their childhood and the amount of time that they spend with their mothers.
     The results of this study are contrary to results reported by Keith (1999) who found that boys were less likely to desire to have a future wife who worked outside the home when they had a mother who worked outside the home.  This study found forty-eight of forty-nine participants desired to have a husband or wife who worked outside the home when they were married.  This supports identification theory (Kagan, 1970) in that children desire the same for themselves a life similar to that of their parents.  The large majority of children in this study came from a dual career families and because they probably view themselves as doing okay they desire the same lifestyle for themselves in the future.  Although contrary to Keith (1999), the results coincide with those of Stephan and Corder (1985) who suggested a positive feedback loop as children from dual-career families would later have a dual-career family.
     Father's occupation was also measured as a possible variable however, like mothers employment it was found to have no significant effects.  Mother's and father's education also demonstrated no relationship in how children responded to the CSRI questions.  Future research should further investigate the effects of having a working father and his level of employment on children's gender roles and stereotypes as well as attitudes regarding work.  The idea of a working father is something that has been taken for granted and is greatly under studied.  If having a working mother has been found to impact development it seems likely that aspects of father's employment would as well.
     Interestingly, boys gave themselves higher scores on the female questions on the CSRI than those reported on the masculine questions.  The average score reported by males for the masculine questions was 2.66 and that reported for the feminine questions was 2.98.  It can be stated that this group of boys were less likely to adopt gender roles that accord with societal expectation.  It is also possible that the questionnaire did not portray the masculine statements as favorably as those of the feminine questions.  Girls on the other hand, rated themselves higher than boys on the masculine questions with an average score of 2.82 but scored themselves significantly high on the feminine questions with an average of 3.56 out of a possible 4.00.  This sample of girls reported having strong gender roles by scoring significantly high on feminine questions.  Girls gave higher ratings than the mean on all subscales for the self-report CSRI which may indicate that they tended to be more liberal in scoring themselves using more 3s and 4s whereas boys tended to avoid the extremes and report scores of 2s and 3s.   Although the girls appeared to be more liberal it may have been that the statements on the CSRI were more appealing overall to the girls in this sample than they were to the boys.  Both male and female participants gave similar scores on the neutral questions indicating that girls probably did not tend to be more liberal with their scores.
     The CSRI, created to model the Bem Sex Roles Inventory (BSRI) created by Sandra Bem (1977) also adopts the same terminology as the BSRI to rate the participants.  Those scoring below the median on the masculine and feminine sub scales are called undifferentiated.  This is the label given to the males in this study.  They did not demonstrate scores that indicated stronger than average gender roles in either the masculine or feminine direction.  The group of girls studied reported scores indicating they were gender polarized in the feminine direction however, because they scored above the median on the masculine scale they are termed androgynous, having both male and female gender roles.   The differences reported for the opposite sex on the second taking of the CSRI indicate different results.
     The CSRI was not designed to be used to measure stereotypes.  This study changed the second copy given from "I" statements to "Female" statements for males and "Male" statements for females (See Appendix B).  On the CSRI given to females regarding the gender roles of males, females scored males considerably lower than themselves on the feminine questions and higher than themselves on the masculine questions.  This would indicate that this sample of girls on average, stereotype males into traditional gender roles.  Males on the other hand scored females higher on both the masculine and feminine questions on the CSRI for the opposite sex.  This indicates that this sample of boys do not adopt stereotypes in the same way that girls do.  This sample of boys reported gender role scores in the direction of feminine polarized as they scored themselves higher on the female questions than the masculine questions, for this reason it would seem that the boys did not see the questions as they were intended.  The masculine questions may have seemed too masculine and the feminine questions more favorable for themselves and more likely to be true of girls.
     Grade presented a significant impact on stereotyping scores reported.  Students in the eighth grade scored significantly higher on the second copy of the CSRI surveying the impressions they had about the opposite sex.  This would indicate that eighth graders are more likely to stereotype.  Clearly, as children become older they have increased exposure to gender appropriate messages which may cause them to report greater stereotyping.  It follows that they also reported to have adopted stronger gender roles.  Age was a significant factor in how children responded to the questionnaire.  Although there was no interaction found between gender and grade on the CSRI scores, in looking at the means eighth grade girls reported especially high scores on the feminine questions.   In early adolescence it appears children become more gender polarized.  This further supports the literature (Alfieri, Ruble & Higgins, 1996; Pipher, 1994) that as children grow older they are more likely to adopt stronger gender roles and stereotypes.  The difference between fifth and eighth grade scores also supports the belief that seventh grade typically marks the adoption of gender roles and stereotypes.
     In addition to gender and grade a correlation was run assessing the stereotypes of children to when the mother began working outside the home.  Although the correlation was only approaching significance at the p<.10 level it is in the right direction and supports the hypothesis. The longer the mother worked outside the home the less likely the child was to report stereotypes.  Therefore, the younger the child was when mom began working the less likely the child was to report differences between self and the opposite sex.  Having a working mother may have more of an effect than much of this studies results have shown.  Further research using a larger sample size may show more clear results on this issue.
     The entire participant pool of 49 subjects was used to assess the relationship between the child's future goals and the percent female of the child's chosen occupation.  Children were more likely to choose careers that were traditionally of the same gender as themselves.  The percent female of the careers chosen by males was 29.6% whereas the percent female of the girls professions was 48.3%.  The percent female of the reported careers of mother's was 77.1%, considerably higher than that which was reported by their daughters.  Castellino, Lerner, Lerner and von Eye (1998) reported that they found girls to have similar goals as their mother, this study supports this in that these girls do tend to report female careers, however it is to a much lesser degree than that of their mothers careers.  This may mean that girls are more likely to enter into nontraditional roles or that over time girls adopt career plans which are more in accordance with gender expectations.  As gender roles and stereotypes are predicted to increase over age it is likely that girls career plans will be affected by this and they will choose more gender specific careers.  All but two of the forty-nine participants reported that they intended to go one to some form of higher education in response to the question, "Do you intend to go to college?"  The most common answer among females for future career plans was veterinarian, males did not have a most common answer as they reported a range of careers.  Interestingly, a correlation was found between percent female of chosen occupation and stereotypes reported.  Children who reported fewer stereotypes were more likely to choose traditional careers.  This is contrary to expectation, however clearly points to the fact that children have limited knowledge regarding their mother's careers and quite possibly limited exposure to careers in general.
     This study found that while contrary to the hypothesis, that the female participants in this study who had a stay at home mom reported more androgynous mean scores although the findings were not significant.  Girls reported more androgynous gender roles while boys were undifferentiated scoring below the median on both the masculine and feminine scales.   Eighth graders had stronger gender roles than fifth graders.  Both males and females reported gender stereotypes.  Eighth grade boys were more likely to present stereotypes than were fifth grade boys.  Girls were equally as likely to adopt stereotypes no matter what grade.  The participants reported career plans in accordance with gender, girls reporting more traditionally female careers than boys however significantly less traditional than the careers reported for their mothers.
     Problems that occurred in the research that may have contributed to the findings was the lack of participants.  Fifty parent consent forms were sent to fifth graders of which a total of 22 were returned.  One indicating that they would not permit their child to participate and another requested more information of which the consent was not given once the information was supplied.  Fifty parent-consent forms were sent home with eighth graders of which only 6 responded favorably.  An additional fifty were sent out and this time the teachers of these students supplied incentive to bring them back signed of which an additional thirty-six responded.  The difficulty in obtaining subjects may indicate that those who replied are in some way different from those who did not.  The non-participants suggested that they did not return the consent form because their parent's did not want them to participate in the study.
     Although the CSRI is designed for children as young as third grade (Boldizar, 1991), many of the fifth graders had difficulty understanding the content of the questions.  Many of the same questions were raised by participants, such as "What does this mean?"  Fifth graders were especially concerned as to how to respond to questions regarding the opposite sex.  Many of the participants asked "How am I to know what a boy or girl is thinking?"  The length of the survey questions are also of concern.  In addition to the twelve background questions, 60 CSRI questions were also asked and many of the fifth graders expressed concern over the large number of questions.
     The basis for this survey relied on self-report by the participants, who ranged in age from ten to fifteen years old.  Many gave extremely vague answers to the questions regarding mother's employment and did not know exactly what her position was at her place of employment.  Based upon the answer given to mother's occupation and the educational level, the researcher was left to speculate on many of questionnaires as to what position the mother actually held whether management or support staff and what status the position would fall into.  This also influenced the percent female of the mother's occupation although neither percent female nor employment status had significant effects on children's CSRI scores.
     Because this study surveyed children it did not factor in socioeconomic status as a variable.  Family socioeconomic status could have accounted for some of the results.  Children whose mother's did not have to work as a source of second income may have viewed gender roles differently from those whose mothers had to work to add additional financial support.  The population surveyed appeared to be predominantly middle-class with a small amount of diversity.  There was a range of educational and occupational levels reported for both parents.  In order to account for socioeconomic status without having obtained factual information regarding this, this study added together the status of both the mother's and father's occupation by totaling the status of the parents reported careers; 0 = stay at home to 4 = professional level. Those with higher totals most likely have higher incomes.  Significant results were found for males on the CSRI scores in relation to socioeconomic status.  Boys who had higher economic status as measured as above were less likely to report stereotypes.  This supports the hypothesis that as status of employment position goes up (i.e. higher economic status), the stereotypes of children will decrease.  Future research however, should study this as a variable by having parents report it in the background information.
     Future research should focus on gaining a larger sample size of children overall as well as larger sample of children who have a stay at home mother, in order to get more valid results.  It is also the recommendation of this researcher that background information be obtained by the parents of the child in order to get more accurate reporting.  The scale used to measure gender roles and stereotypes was designed to measure gender roles however, the current study created an alternate form which was used to measure stereotypes by comparison of scores.  Future research may want to use an actual gender stereotype measure which has been found valid and reliable.  How parents share household responsibility may prove interesting in looking at children's gender roles and stereotypes.  It may be interesting to look across other age groups using both the CSRI and the Bem Sex Roles Inventory (BSRI) as the CSRI has been correlated with the BSRI to be used on children.  Longitudinal research or even cross-sectional research among children, teen-agers and adults could prove interesting.
     The findings of this study are important in that children are adopting gender roles and stereotypes no matter whether or not their mother works outside the home, and no matter what position the mother occupies in employment.  It seems essential that children be educated as to the similarities between sexes and the possibilities which exist for both males and females.  The research indicates that seventh grade marks a period of major change in children's gender role development as they adopt gender roles and stereotypes more in accordance with societal expectation.  Maybe the differences in how boys and girls are treated is more clear and understandable at this age.  Girls may be going out baby-sitting at this age and boys off to play competitive sports for their middle school.   There is a great need to treat children alike no matter what sex they are.  Why is it that boys do not go baby-sitting?  Why do girls always tend to feel less valued?  At this age there is a need for education and discussion.  Children are just entering the stage of abstract thought and maybe are just now able to comprehend the roles in which society intends for them.  Schools, teachers and parents should address these issues with their children so that they are aware of the stereotypes and expectations but also realize that there are alternatives.   The children in this study did not appear to understand what their mothers did for work.  It is recommended from the results of this study that mothers take their sons and daughters to work in order expose them to career options as well as to let them know where their mom is all day and what she is doing.  Teachers could do more with informing children of their career options as well.  Lectures by parents regarding their careers or looking at different career possibilities each week could be imformative for children and expose them to nontraditional career choices.
     Most importantly everyone who interacts with children should realize that each of us contributes to the socialization of children.  Mother's employment is just a small factor in the development of gender roles and stereotypes.  As a society we treat boys and girls differently.  We shape children's gender roles by positive reinforcement of gender appropriate behaviors and negative reinforcement of gender inappropriate behaviors.  The toys we choose for children and the chores we expect them to accomplish are all factors which contribute to gender role formation.  Directly, or indirectly we are teaching our children how to act in accordance with societal expectation and thereby limiting them.  We teach them that acting in accordance with societal expectation is right and to act in anyway contradictory is wrong.  When we say this we teach our children to stereotype.  Someone who does not act in accordance with expectation is different and is often teased with words like "tomboy" and "sissy".  We need to encourage children and tell them that they are valued equally and that they are just as capable and free to choose any career they want and act anyway they want.
     What is essential to learn from this study is the importance of more research in this area.  The way in which the mother and father interact at home and how the household chores are divided may in fact be of greater importance in gender development.  The relationship between children whose mother's stay at home and mother's who work is an area to be explored further.  The influence of the father's employment in terms of children's gender role development should also be examined in future research.  From these findings we do know that children often are not sure what their mother does when she leaves for work.  Children do not know the importance of mom's career nor whether she is in a traditional career or not and therefore, did not appear to be affected positively or negatively. Children may be greatly influenced by a "Take your child to work day" as it may be of value to the child to see the importance of mom outside of being his/her mother.  Due to the lack of significance found in areas regarding mothers employment it seems apparent that no matter whether a mother works part-time or full-time, outside the home or not it will not strongly affect her child in terms of gender roles.  Children were not seen to be affected strongly either way if their mother worked outside the home or not or whether their mother worked part-time or full-time.  The results of this study, while calling for more research also suggest that mother's who work have nothing to feel guilty about in terms of their children's gender role development.  Children are adopting gender roles and learning stereotypes from many places and it is essential that as parent's and teachers that we talk to our children about these beliefs and help them to better understand where they come from.  It is also important that we give children experiences that go beyond the gender roles that are expected.



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