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The 'mighty girl' effect: does parenting daughters alter attitudes towards gender norms?

Borrell-Porta, Mireia, Costa-Font, Joan and Philipp, Julia (2019) The 'mighty girl' effect: does parenting daughters alter attitudes towards gender norms? Oxford Economic Papers, 71 (1). pp. 25-46. ISSN 0030-7653

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oep/gpy063


Understanding the malleability of gender norms is crucial to address gender differences in the labour market and within households. We study the effect of parenting daughters on attitudes towards gender norms in the UK; more specifically, attitudes towards the traditional male breadwinner norm in which it is the husband’s role to work and the wife’s role to stay at home. We find robust evidence that parenting daughters decreases fathers’ likelihood to agree with a traditional gender division of work. This is especially the case for fathers of schoolage daughters, for whom the effects are robust to a number of alternative specifications, and in particular the inclusion of individual fixed effects models. Our preferred estimates suggest that fathers’ probability to support traditional gender norms declines by approximately three percentage points (eight percent change) when parenting primary school-age daughters and by four percentage points (eleven percent change) when parenting secondary-school age daughters. In contrast, the effect of rearing daughters on mothers’ attitudes is smaller and generally not statistically significant. These findings are consistent with theories of exposure as well as (social) identity theories. We conclude that attitudes towards gender norms are not stable throughout the life-course and can significantly be shaped by experiences during adulthood.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Oxford University Press
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J7 - Labor Discrimination
Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Health Policy
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2018 16:13
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2019 00:10

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