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Mothers and Fathers in the Workplace: How Gender and Parental Status Influence Judgments of Job-Related Competence


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kathleen Fuegen, Department of Psychology, 4240 Campus Drive, Ohio State University, Lima, OH 45804 [e-mail:].


We investigated the influence of gender and parental status on employment decisions. The shifting standards model predicts that parenthood polarizes judgments of women and men such that mothers are held to stricter employment standards than fathers. Social role theory predicts that parenting role, rather than gender, guides judgments of mothers and fathers. One hundred ninety-six undergraduates at two universities evaluated a job applicant; the applicant was either male or female and was either single or married with two children. Results showed that parents were judged less agentic and less committed to employment than non-parents. Parental status also interacted with gender, indicating that fathers were held to more lenient standards than mothers and childless men. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.