Examining the Relationship between Parents' Gender Roles and Responsibilities towards Their Children (a Turkish Example)

By Erkal, Sibel; Copur, Zeynep et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, October 20, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Examining the Relationship between Parents' Gender Roles and Responsibilities towards Their Children (a Turkish Example)


Erkal, Sibel, Copur, Zeynep, Dogan, Nuri, Safak, Sukran, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This study was planned and conducted in order to determine parents' gender roles and their influence on children and their attitudes towards responsibility. The study involved 600 people (405 men, 195 women) selected through a random sampling method from a total of 3536 staff from Hacettepe University. The instruments used in this study consisted of 4 parts: personal information survey, responsibility and satisfaction surveys, and the adapted Turkish version of the Bern Sex Role Inventory (BSRT). Two-way ANOVA (2 x 4 factorial design) methods were used for the research questions. According to the results of the study, it is evident that mothers are more involved in childcare than fathers. However, gender roles, classified as "androgynous", "masculine", "feminine" and "undifferentiated", do not seem to have a significant effect on the amount of time a parent spends with his/her children.

Keywords: gender roles, gender, distribution of responsibility, childcare, Bern Sex Role Inventory.

It is important to recognize that time is the central organizing feature of a family's activities. The growing diversity in work schedules has changed the amount of time that family members have together, and may be radically changing family life. Not only are mothers spending less time with their children than in the past because of their employment, and children less time with their fathers because of increased separation and divorce, but even mothers, fathers, and children in intact families are spending less time together as a family unit because parents work different hours or days (Presser, 1989).

It is well recognized tiiat Turkey is in a process of rapid change. During this process, the attitudes of men and women towards gender roles are changing in step with other attitudes as well (Ersoz, 1999). Nevertheless, in Turkey, men are still observed to possess more traditional gender role attitudes than women. Although a woman's participation in the business world can lead to improvements in a couple's relationship with each other and thus change concepts related to die roles and responsibilities of a man and woman, studies done in Turkey and otiier countries on this issue reveal that most of the domestic tasks and childcare are still carried out by women (Atalay, Kontas, & Beyazit, 1993; Barnett & Baruch, 1987; Berk & Berk, 1979; Frank, 2004; Renk et al., 2003).

The functions of a famtiy unit are distributed among family members as roles. Role distribution is not only a technical phenomenon but is strongly influenced by sociological, social, and psychological factors. Behaviors of parenthood status are also roles belonging to this status (Imamoglu, 1991; Murstein, 1970). Gender roles examine individuals' perception of their identity as either men or women and whether they exhibit behaviors that their genders require (Kisac, 1999). According to the results of the Bern Sex Role Inventory, sex roles of individuals are classified as 'masculine', 'feminine', 'androgynous' (exhibiting both sex roles), and 'undifferentiated'. Femininity and masculinity are concepts that represent an individual's sexual identity (Bern, 1974).

It can be seen that in a family system in which the roles of men and women differ according to social stereotyped ideas regarding gender, problems occur especially for women. When a woman has a full-time job, a more egalitarian change takes place in families on issues such as sharing the economic power and important decisions (Ciftci, 2005). Mothers who begin working outside the home subsequently decrease their role in childcare and the father's contribution increases (McBride & McBride, 1990; Renk et al., 2003). On the other hand, if a man's role does not change in parallel with the woman's, most of the domestic workload as well as out-of-house tasks fall on the woman, resulting in an unbalanced role distribution (Ciftci, 2005).

It is important for both mother and father to care for and spend time with their children, as they influence their attitudes toward gender roles (Smith, 2004).

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