Attitudes about Stay-At-Home Fathers
By: Tanya Rouleau
For: Methods of Social Research Professor Catherine L. Moran, Ph.D. University of New Hampshire May 5, 2010
Abstract Research has shown that stay-at-home fathers are evaluated more negatively than stay-at-home mothers (Rosenwasser, Gonzalez, and Adams 1985; Kroska 2001) and working parents (Brescoll and Uhlmann 2005). Stay-at-home fathers who are also breadwinners have been evaluated more positively than stay-at-home fathers who do not contribute financially to their families (Rosenwasser, Gonzalez, and Adams 1985). Participants in the present study were 236 students enrolled in undergraduate classes on the UNH Durham campus. Each participant read a description of one of six hypothetical parents and answered questions about his or her attitudes toward the hypothetical parent as well as his or her perceptions of others’ attitudes toward the parent. Results indicated that UNH Durham students do not hold especially negative attitudes toward stay-at-home fathers, although they believe that others see stay-at-home fathers as less successful and less respected by their coworkers than employed parents and stay-at-home mothers.
Stay-at-home fathers represent a small but growing group within the United Sates. In 2002, 336,000 men were at home caring for their children. Of these men, 189,000 had wives that were employed full time (U.S. Census Bureau 2002). Stay-at-home fathers are sociologically important because they represent a reversal of traditional gender roles. Traditional norms about masculinity center on the idea that men should be breadwinners; stay-at-home fathers completely violate this idea. The theory of hegemonic masculinity holds that there is a “dominant cultural ideal of masculinity” which is “constructed in relation to femininities, and in relation to subordinated masculinities” (Connell 1985, 1987, as cited in Brandth and Kvande 1998:296). This suggests that stay-at-home...