ABSTRACT. Drawing on 48 qualitative interviews, the authors study the relationship between gender ideologies and how women negotiate for family friendly work conditions and compensation. The authors find that although the women in their sample have widely diverging ideologies about the obligations and rights women have in the home and in the workforce, these ideologies did not influence discernibly their negotiations at work to obtain compensation and friendly work conditions. Instead, the women’s beliefs about gender egalitarianism tended to be overshadowed by their beliefs that motherhood is intensive and all-involving and necessarily involves sacrifices in the workplace and at home. This gendered understanding of motherhood frequently limited the expectations of even the most-feminist identified women when they approached their employers about compensation and about accommodations that would facilitate better work and family balance. The authors conclude that family and work scholars who study the role of gender ideology should expand their definitions of gender ideology to incorporate the ways in which ideologies about motherhood may interact with, contradict or overshadow other gender egalitarian beliefs.

Keywords: gender; gender ideology; motherhood wage penalty; work and family balance; motherhood; gender roles

How to cite: Harris, Elizabeth C., and Mychel L. Estevez (2017). “The Role of Gender and Motherhood Ideologies in Perpetuating Workplace Inequality,” Journal of Research in Gender Studies 7(2): 67–85.

Received 9 February 2017 • Received in revised form 8 August 2017
Accepted 8 August 2017 • Available online 28 August 2017


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Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman;
The National Council on
Crime & Delinquency, Oakland, CA
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Portland State University;
The University of Portland
(corresponding author)

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