Gender role ideology and life course transitions of baby-boom women

Jessica Penn Lendon, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study investigated the interrelationship between attitudes toward gender role egalitarianism and family and human capital decisions among a group of baby-boom women from 1971 to 2005. Using latent growth curve and latent difference modeling of 294 women, we found that early egalitarian values decreased the risk of becoming a mother and marrying and increased the risk of graduating college and working in the labor force. A sharp increase in egalitarianism was found between 1971 and 1985 that was more characteristic of women who graduated college and worked in the labor force. The stall of the post-1985 period was predicted (inversely) by earlier attitudes toward egalitarianism, but not by life decisions. Results suggest that early values were consequential for life pathways taken by these women and that more advantaged women were at the vanguard of the surge in egalitarian gender values during the 1970s and 1980s that subsequently moderated from the mid-1980s onward. There appears to be a convergence among women in their attitudes over time, characteristic of an institutionalization of gender role equality that blends liberal and traditional orientations. This study offers a long-historical view into how women's gender role attitudes change over historical time and the role that family and human capital factors play in that change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-198
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender role ideology
  • Life course transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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