Attitudes Toward Maternal Employment and Child Care in Sweden

Hultåker, Örjan E.
January 1981
Journal of Comparative Family Studies;Winter81, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p95
Academic Journal
Mothers who work outside the home and who hold negative attitudes toward their jobs tend to experience less rewarding mother-child relationships. This is interpreted as an example of cognitive dissonance between attitudes toward maternal employment and mothers' actual employment outside the home. Data collected for this study show that a large percentage of Swedish mothers work outside the home although they hold negative attitudes toward maternal employment. They have two ways of reducing their cognitive dissonance: through changing their attitudes or through changing their employment status. However, there are many structural factors in Sweden which make it unlikely that women will stop working. Therefore, the focus for the remainder of the paper shifts to a search for factors responsible for change of attitudes. The hypothesis that women's experience of social reality will change their attitudes toward maternal employment led to the construction of a causal model showing the effects of the division of work in the family and of the wife's age on attitudes toward maternal employment. The data from over 4,000 Swedish women suggest that diminishing a woman's work inside the home while increasing both her mate's work inside the home and her own work outside the home will make her more positive toward maternal employment.


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