Gender ideology: impact on dual-career couples' role strain, marital satisfaction, and life satisfaction
King, Jennifer Jean
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With dual-career couples comprising the most common family type, it is important for mental health professionals, employers, and policy makers to understand the unique challenges of this population (Haddock et al., 2001; Saginak & Saginak, 2005.) Numerous researchers have studied the consequences of family and work role strain for dual-career couples. However, when dual-career couples are able to share responsibilities and negotiate degendered roles they experience the benefits of dual-career couples. The literature clearly supports the importance of egalitarian roles for marital satisfaction and life satisfaction of dual-career couples. While researchers have studied social role strain, gender role strain, marital satisfaction, and life satisfaction and discussed the importance of degendered roles and responsibilities for dual-career couples, no studies have examined gender ideology. Saginak and Saginak (2005) called for researchers to investigate how gender ideologies and the gender socialization process perpetuate the challenges faced by dual-career couples in balancing work and family. This study investigated the associations between gender ideology and gender role strain, job-family role strain, marital satisfaction, and life satisfaction among 70 individual members of dual-career couples. A multivariate analysis of variance was utilized to investigate the relationship between gender ideology and the criterion measures. Gender ideology was partially associated with gender role strain with the androgynous gender ideology group scoring significantly lower on gender role strain than the masculine or undifferentiated gender ideology groups but not significantly lower than the feminine gender ideology group. Gender ideology was not associated with job-family role strain or marital satisfaction. In addition, gender ideology was also partially associated with life satisfaction with the androgynous gender ideology group scoring significantly higher on quality of life than the masculine or undifferentiated gender ideology groups but not significantly higher than the feminine gender ideology group. Thus, the current study indicates there are partial associations between gender ideology and gender role strain and life satisfaction for dual-career couples. Mental health professionals, employers, and policy makers working with dual-career couples should assess the socially constructed gender norms and expectations internalized by individuals into a gender ideology as the possible source of challenges experienced by the dual-career couple.