Kids these days!
A surprising new report found that American teenagers are more likely than high school seniors 20 years ago to believe that men should be breadwinners and make all the major family decisions.
In 1994, 58 percent of high school teens disagreed that it’s “usually better” if families have a male breadwinner while the woman takes care of the home and family, according to a survey analyzed by a pair of sociologists for the Council on Contemporary Families.
But by 2014, that number had fallen to 42 percent.
Modern teens are also more likely to believe that husbands should be the ultimate authority in families.
“In 1976, a majority of high school seniors (59 percent) disagreed with the statement that ‘the husband should make all the important decisions in the family,’” the report says. “This rose to 71 percent by 1994 but fell back to 63 percent by 2014.”
But while teen attitudes about family gender roles have changed, their views on how women should be treated in the workforce remain largely the same, with about 89 percent of those surveyed saying women should have the same job opportunities men do.
Today’s teens are also more supportive of working moms.
“In 1976, about three-quarters of high school seniors agreed that ‘a preschool child is likely to suffer if the mother works,’” the report says. “By 1994, however, nearly half (48 percent) disagreed, and by 2014 about 60 percent disagreed.”
So what accounts for the shift in attitudes on the home front? The researchers can’t pinpoint an exact cause, but suggest that it has something to do with respondents believing that “men and women are innately and fundamentally different.”
“Our findings, along with other scholarship, suggest that advances for women in the public sphere may increase many people’s desire to reinforce gender essentialist ideology in the family,” the report says.
“So long as essentialist beliefs about innate differences in men and women persist, efforts to equalize women’s standing with men may remain stalled.”