The Formative Years: How Parenthood Creates Gender

Authors


  • *I am grateful to Diana Worts and Sherry Bartram for excellent research assistance; Sheila Martineau, Evangeline Davis, Elizabeth Walker, Rebecca Fulton, Ann Bernardo, Sharon Saunders, David Guetter and Jennifer Bates for careful transcribing; Stephanie Grahame for translation; Bill Carroll and three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments; and John Fox for his usual incisive criticism. My sincere gratitude goes to the 40 couples and one single mother who spent so much of their time telling me about their changing lives, and to Diana Worts and Christa Kelleher whose collaboration and insights have been invaluable to me and to this project. The research reported here was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (grant number 410–94–0453), and several General Research Grants from the University of Toronto. This manuscript was first submitted in June 2001 and accepted in October 2001

Abstract

Cet article présente les conclusions d'une étude qui traite d'une série d'entrevues en profondeur de couples hétérosexuals en voie de devenir parents. Le but de l'étude était de mieux comprendre comment le fait de devenir parents produit des différences dans les rôles attribués aux sexes et des inégalités entre eux. En se concentrant sur les relations sociales changeantes de la maternité, la discussion tourne autour de quatre ajustements dans la vie de la femme: l'ap-propriation des responsabilités maternelles, les négotiations qui déterminent comment la femme et l'homme entreprennent leur rôle de mère et de père; le développement d'une division des travaux ménagers moins équilibrée; révolution d'une vie sociale centrée d'avantage sur la famille; et le renouvellement des relations entre la femme et sa mère.

This paper presents findings from a study involving a series of in-depth interviews of heterosexual couples as they made the transition to parenthood. The study was aimed at understanding how parenthood produces gender differences and inequalities. Focussing on the changing social relations of motherhood, the discussion revolves around four changes in women's lives: the assumption of the responsibilities of motherhood and the negotiations that shape how women mother (and how men father); the development of a more unbalanced division of household work; the evolution of a more family-focussed social life; and the renewal of women's relationships with their mothers.

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