Women’s Economic Activities and the Gender Role Attitudes in Conjugal Relationships

Mun, Ji-Sun. 2017. Korean Journal of Sociology 51(2): 191-232.

This study analyzed how conjugal gender role attitudes on economic activity of married women is related to the women’s actual economic activity. It observed three(3)-quantile families by household income which were kept the quantile, and other families that were changed, using eight years data (2008-2015) of the Korean Welfare Panel Study. The findings are: the low rate of female employment is due to less progressive attitudes towards gender role of the husbands, for their opinion about the employment of the female affect greatly the wives’ employment status; however, the forms of employment of the woman is related to the attitude of the women herself. When conjugal gender role attitudes are combined, those families in which both husband and wife are progressive is the most favorable condition for a woman to be hired or even getting a permanent position, especially among those holding two-thirds household income quantile (the middle class). When it comes to the case in which the couples had differences in their attitudes on gender role, the result on how it affects women’s economic activity may be interpreted as woman’s effort to reduce tensions induced by the disharmony under the pressure of cognitive dissonance. Thus, the results support and suggest that the combined attitudes on gender role in conjugal relationship from both the husband and wife rather than the separate attitudes from each party is crucial for analysis in the topic.

For the upper-quantile kept families, the husbands’ opinion was dominantly affecting wives’ participation in work force; nevertheless, among the lower-quantile kept families, it was the opinion of wives themselves that affected more their economic activity. A woman of the lower class tend to participate in the labor market as much as her gender role attitude is progressive, but women in the upper class were not as much. It was more determined by not her own attitude but her husband’s attitude, though she is more gender egalitarian than women from any other quantiles. Therefore, this addresses that the characteristics of family in which the woman can bring out her subjectivity differs by the household income level, and especially a progressive woman of the upper class is actually more dependent on the husband than a woman of the lower class. Showing that gender role attitudes become more progressive, but the speed of its change can differ by specific gender role norms, sex, income class overlapped, this article notices and interprets how women cope with cognitive dissonance caused by this discrepancy.


Individualization and Gender Division of Labor: Panel Analysis of Gender Role Attitudes of Women in the Formative Period of a Family

Heo, Eun. 2017. Korean Journal of Sociology 51(4): 47-78.

This article is aiming at understanding how the attitudes of women in terms of gender role change during the formative period of the family. It analyzes the influence of life events that occur in the process of family formation affecting the attitude of gender role of women aged 24 to 37, based on the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Family (KLoWF, 1st-5th).

The results are summarized as follows: First, women have tendency to adjust the gender role attitudes to the condition of their family life, which changes after getting jobs and giving birth. Second, women that have a higher level of education are probable to oppose gender division of labor, but agree to the idea that it is necessary for a mother to stay home for taking good care of her children. Third, it appears that there is high probability of the attitude changes among women to turn against the gender role, and yet become to agree with the mother’s role as a home-maker for their children before the age of schooling, as high as that of the attitude change to take opinion opposing the gender role and the role of a mother as a home-maker.

These results imply that individualization have contradictory influence on gender division of labor. The expansion of opportunities for women’s education and employment undermines the base of traditional gender role rules; however, ironically, more education for women tightens the rules of mothering, as something that the mothers should sacrifice more for the children. Therefore, individualization encourages women to pursue the life for themselves, while it may adjust their attitude on setting a goal and participation or commitment to career-related activities to place duties of a mother as central. If the latter pattern of behavior spreads out and becomes more common sense, then-although the activities in career development are not excluded from women’s lives-the gender division of labor would be re-structured as the ‘male-breadwinner and female-career’ composition in which women have to perform the primary role of child-rearing even if they have a career.

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