Attitudes harden towards the lot of a working mother

Sydney Morning Herald October 11, 2010
Australians have become more conservative in their views on key gender issues since the 1990s, particularly on the role of working mothers, a study shows. People are much less inclined to believe a working mother can be as good a mother as one who stays at home full-time, for example. And they are more likely to think it better for the family if the husband is the main breadwinner and the wife has chief responsibility for home and children. The study, by Janeen Baxter, professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and colleagues, shows the trend towards more liberal views on work and family has stalled and in some cases reversed. ”These developments may not be sufficient to warrant the term ‘backlash’ but they indicate some rethinking of the goals of the feminist movement for equal opportunity,” Professor Baxter said. The study tracked responses to five almost identical questions on gender equality from different groups over five periods between 1986 and 2005. It revealed men and women became increasingly egalitarian in their views until the mid ’90s.