Working mothers and workplace discrimination: the role of prescriptive stereotypes, neosexism and status threat.

Michelle Nesic (2010). Working mothers and workplace discrimination: the role of prescriptive stereotypes, neosexism and status threat. PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Michelle Nesic
Thesis Title Working mothers and workplace discrimination: the role of prescriptive stereotypes, neosexism and status threat.
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Barbara Masser
Associate Professor Julie Duck
Total pages 261
Total colour pages 1
Total black and white pages 260
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary Across six studies and three distinct research phases, this program of research examines factors that contribute to the workplace discrimination that women, in particular mothers, experience. The first phase of research, comprising Studies 1-3, examines the prescriptive stereotypes of employed mothers and fathers, and the work and care expectations of mothers-to-be. The first study (N = 40) elicited, from students and a sample of working adults, the stereotypes associated with mothers under two different employment scenarios (full-time or part-time). The results of this study indicate that stereotypes associated with mothers employed on a full-time basis are overwhelmingly negative. Study 1b (N = 79) examined how presence of children are perceived to impact on the daily routine of a professional female employee in comparison to an identical male. This phase concludes with a partial replication of Marks and Houston (2002), which sought to determine the career and caring expectations of young women (Study 2; N = 112). This study found that the combination of caring for children and full-time employment is seen as less desirable than the care of children in combination with part-time employment. The key findings of phase one , that the most negative evaluations and the least desired pattern of work and care is reserved for mothers employed on a full-time basis, led to the second phase of studies. This second phase, comprising Studies 3 and 4, examines how mothers (and women) are evaluated in a workplace context. Specifically, phase two assesses which combination of employment (full-time or part-time, with or without teleworking) and parental scenarios (mothers versus childless women) invoke the greatest workplace penalties. Employing a between-subjects design, Study 3 (N = 134) found that when employed full-time, mothers who do not make use of a work-life balance initiative (e.g., teleworking) are the least likely to be appointed, and if appointed, receive a uniquely low starting salary in comparison to mothers who telework and childless women. These findings are replicated and extended in Study 4 (N = 166), which demonstrates that this discrimination is heightened by those who endorse (to a greater degree) traditional gender ideologies, as assessed by the Neosexism Scale (Tougas, Brown, Beaton, & Joly, 1995). Phase two indicates, overall, that in the workplace mothers who deviate most from prescriptive stereotypes of motherhood face the harshest penalties, particularly when assessed by those with more traditional gender ideologies. That discriminatory evaluations of mothers are disproportionally made by respondents with traditional gender ideologies, led to phase three. This final phase of research seeks to investigate one explanation (i.e., perceived status threat) as to why discrimination against working mothers is heightened amongst those higher in neosexism. Contrary to predictions, the final study of this dissertation (Study 5, N = 72) found that perceptions of social instability with regard to gender relations does not impact on the workplace evaluations of mothers employed full-time. Strengths and limitations of the current program of research are discussed and directions for future research outlined.
Keyword sexism, gender, working mothers, discrimination, stereotypes, status threat
Additional Notes colour 102 landscape 121

 
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Created: Thu, 23 Jun 2011, 13:07:32 EST by Ms Michelle Nesic on behalf of Library - Information Access Service