Gender: Challenging Attitudes, Conceptualizations and Theories Relevant to Work and Family Roles

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Published: 2002

Author(s): Tiffany Hunt

This paper, undergraduate winner of the 2002 award for Excellence in Canadian Work-Family Research, explores limitations in gender theory in the study of work and family roles and considers a new theory called expansionist theory (Barnett & Hyde, 2001).

In recent years, gender has become the primary analytical focus of women’s studies and several interdisciplinary programs in colleges and universities. Gender is a variable that is frequently considered in social scientific research. Specifically, several studies have examined gender in relation to work and family roles (Chait Barnett & Shibley Hyde, 2001; McHale & Crouter, 1992; Thompson & Waler, 1989). Despite growing research in this area, there has been a general lack of theoretical advancement. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the limitations that have impeded advancement and to consider a new theory that may offer a new direction for research studies. This will be accomplished by examining outdated gender attitudes, conceptualizations and theories relevant to work and family roles, and to examine the newly proposed expansionist theory.

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