Working Preferences of Americans by Gender

Gallup asked American adults this question,

“If you were free to do either, would you prefer to have a job outside the home, or would you prefer to stay at home and take care of the house and family?”

U.S. Adults Outside Home % Stay Home % Both
 (vol.) % No
 Opinion %
2008 Aug 7-10 63 34 1 2
2007 Aug 13-16 58 37 3 2
2005 Aug 8-11 54 41 4 1
2003 Jun 12-18 58 38 3 1
2002 Jun 3-9 59 36 4 1
2001 Jun 11-17 62 35 2 1

Even more telling is when it’s broken down by gender…

Men Outside Home % Stay Home % Both
 (vol.) % No
 Opinion %
2008 Aug 7-10 74 23 * 3
2007 Aug 13-16 68 29 1 2
2005 Aug 8-11 68 27 3 2
2003 Jun 12-18 73 24 3 *
2002 Jun 3-9 72 24 3 1
2001 Jun 11-17 73 24 2 1

Notice the difference between the men’s preference to work outside the home versus the women’s preference…

Women Outside Home % Stay Home % Both
 (vol.) % No
 Opinion %
2008 Aug 7-10 52 45 1 2
2007 Aug 13-16 50 45 4 1
2005 Aug 8-11 42 53 4 1
2003 Jun 12-18 45 51 3 1
2002 Jun 3-9 47 48 4 1
2001 Jun 11-17 53 45 2 *

I wonder what this says about men and women and about our society in general?

In their book, “Social Psychology,” Kassin, Fein, and Markus (2008) maintain that,

“Beliefs about males and females are so deeply ingrained that they influence the behavior of adults literally the moment a baby is born” (pp. 154-155).

In other words, what society says about boys and girls, men and women and the corresponding roles we occupy in our society has a significant and powerful impact on our thinking and actions – almost from the moment we enter this world.

When asked to describe a typical man and woman, “males are said to be more adventurous assertive, aggressive, independent, and task-oriented; females are thought to be more sensitive, gentle, dependent, emotional, and people-oriented” (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2008, p. 154). What’s amazing is that these descriptions of men and women were shared by 2,800 college student from 30 countries, confirming the universal significance of gender stereotypes (Kassin et al., 2008).

Children learn gender stereotypes and roles from their parents and other adults and carry these stereotypes with them into adulthood. Thus, it isn’t surprising to find the discrepancy between men’s and women’s responses to working outside the home.

References

Gallup, Inc. Work and Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/1720/Work-Work-Place.aspx

Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H. R. (2008). Social psychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.