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Convergence or Divergence? The Generational Gap in Gender Attitudes, 1977–2018

Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change

ISBN: 978-1-80071-033-7, eISBN: 978-1-80071-032-0

Publication date: 15 March 2021


Research on gender attitudes has consistently found that younger generations have more gender egalitarian views than older generations. Less attention, however, has been directed toward examining whether the generation gap has grown or shrunk over time and whether it differs across dimensions of gender attitudes. Using data from the General Social Survey for years 1977–2018,the authors examine the generational gap in gender attitudes across three components: views toward women in leadership, working mothers, and the gendered division of family labor between public and private spheres. The results show that differences between generations vary significantly across these dimensions. Attitudes have converged over time in support for women’s leadership, yet Baby Boomers espouse slightly higher levels of support than other generations, including the younger Generation Xers and Millennials. In contrast, consistent generation gaps are observed in support for working mothers, where younger generations hold more supportive views than respective older generations. Attitudes toward the gendered division of public/private sphere labor have converged between Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers, with only Pre-Baby Boomers holding significantly more traditional views. Collectively, these trends highlight how cultural change through cohort replacement does not uniformly advance gender egalitarian ideologies. Instead, these shifts vary across specific dimensions of gender attitudes.



Scarborough, W.J., Fessenden, D. and Sin, R. (2021), "Convergence or Divergence? The Generational Gap in Gender Attitudes, 1977–2018", Demos, V. and Segal, M.T. (Ed.) Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 30), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 73-94.



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