Why men with daughters are less sexist

Fathers are less likely to hold traditional attitudes towards gender roles if they have a school-aged daughter.

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) used information from Understanding Society to look at the effects of becoming a parent of a daughter on both men and women. They looked at whether men and women supported the notion of the 'traditional male breadwinner', with the wife as a homemaker. 

The results of their research suggest that men become more aware of the challenges facing women when they have a daughter. The research team found that having a daughter decreases the fathers' likelihood of holding traditional attitudes towards gender roles, particularly when their daughter reaches school-age - a time when children are experiencing a stronger social pressure to conform to gender norms. The researchers found that behaviour, as well as attitude, changed with parents of school-age daughters being less likely to follow traditional gender division of work.

In contrast, having a daughter had little impact on the mothers' gender role attitudes. This could be because they hold less traditional attitudes to start with and through their own personal experience have alrady been exposed to situations where women are disadvantaged. 

This research not only shows that men and women experience parenting differently, but also that our attitudes can adapt over time depending on our experiences. Dr Joan Costa-Font, one of the research team, said "This study shows that attitudes rather than fixed over time, can change later in life. This is a very promising finding that suggests that exposure to others' circumstances can help shape behaviour." 

You can read the research here

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