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Gendered Parenting and the intergenerational transmission of gendered stereotypes: Evidence from Growing up in New Zealand survey

This study investigated the intergenerational transmission of gender attitudes and inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand from parents to their young children. The Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) survey to study approximately 2,500 mothers and 1,700 fathers who had their first child in 2009/10. The time points for data collection used were when the GUiNZ study children were 9 months, two years, and eight years.

Findings and Future Considerations

The study found some evidence of intergenerational transmission of gender stereotypes and gender expectations, but overall parents do treat boy and girl children similarly. Differences detected in parenting by gender were not large enough to explain the persistent gender inequality evident between adults in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research suggests that external structural factors outside parents’ control likely play a primary role in perpetuating potentially harmful gender inequalities.

Parents’ attitudes and behaviours alone cannot end the cycle of harmful gender inequalities, particularly since they are often pressured to parent within society’s gendered structural constrains. Gender inequalities are slow to change largely because of the gendered nature of broad, persistent social factors.

The researchers suggest that structural changes required to eliminate gender inequality are likely to be multi-faceted and fall in a wide range of areas including education and employment, as well as requiring a shift in societal attitudes, which individuals learn from many places, parents being just one.

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