This study aimed to explore the allocation of family work among male carer/female breadwinner couples in comparison to traditional couples, in an attempt to identify the most change-resistant aspects of gendered family roles. A sample of 236 parents with children from birth to 5 years old completed extensive questionnaires about their daily routines and allocation of tasks. As hypothesised, primary caregiving fathers and mothers performed a similar share of housework and physical childcare tasks and were more involved in these forms of family work than breadwinning fathers and mothers. Also as hypothesised, primary caregiving mothers assumed a greater share of the emotional care and overall responsibility for childcare than primary caregiving fathers. That is, whereas primary caregiving mothers carried out most of the emotional care and responsibility for childcare with very little involvement of the breadwinning fathers, among role-reversed couples emotional care and responsibility were shared more equally. These findings suggest that overall, role-reversed couples ‘undo’ gender by performing tasks according to their family role rather than prescriptive gender norms. The results further support the distinction between the more malleable forms of family work and the most change-resistant aspects of gendered parenting.
University of Lincoln, College of Science and College of Social Science Research
Dr Mariana Lobo Pinho, University of Lincoln, School of Chemistry
Dr Ruth Gaunt, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology