August 2020


  1. How Genes and Gender Influence Educational Attainment
  2. Study on traditional gender role beliefs suggests greater submission can undermine marital adjustment
  3. What Is Gender-Inclusive Language And And Why Does It Matter?
  4. Childcare during a global pandemic: Many women left juggling work and childcare, but men do their share when they are not working

How Genes and Gender Influence Educational Attainment


Pamela Herd, Jeremy Freese, Kamil Sicinski, Benjamin W. Domingue, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Caiping Wei, Robert M. Hauser, “Genes, Gender Inequality, and Educational Attainment,” American Sociological Review, 2019


Both nature and nurture have always influenced who goes furthest in school. Recent advancements in genetics have found a way to modestly predict educational success through genes, and sociologists are engaging with that work to explore what social factors affect the expression of those genes. Because women’s access to higher education has historically been limited by social and structural barriers, genetic predictors of educational success may have been muted. Over the past century, women’s college access has increased, but has this also equalized the role played by genetics in predicting who attains a higher education? Tracing gendered effects of genetics over time can expose effects of gender discrimination in education.

Pamela Herd and her research team including Jeremy Freese, Kamil Sicinski, Benjamin W. Domingue, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Caiping Wei, and Robert M. Hauser decided to find out. Using data from three longitudinal surveys, they examined the educational attainment of participants born during different generations, including the Silent Generation (born 1931-1941); War Babies (born 1942-1947), Early Baby Boomers (born 1948-1953), Mid Baby Boomers (born 1954-1959); and Generation X (born 1976-1983). Each respondent provided a saliva sample which was analyzed for genetic intelligence indicators, or alleles associated with higher educational attainment. Respondents were then assigned a polygenic score — a big summary measure that has been shown in other studies to modestly predict educational success. The researchers used these scores to compare how much genes predicted educational attainment for the men and women born throughout the 20th century, and how this changed over time.

They found that the role of genetics in shaping educational attainment is strongly patterned by gender. Among participants born in 1939-1940, they found that men’s polygenic score was more tightly linked to their schooling than women’s at every age. Genetic predispositions helped men graduate college, but even women with the same genetic predispositions were limited by societal factors.

But in comparing the patterns of men and women born in different generations, they found that gender differences varied as social conditions changed. Among the older cohorts, men showed a stronger link than women. The researchers believe that this was because women’s participation in higher education was severely limited during the 1950s and 60s, and because many men who had the grades (and the genes) to go to college either opted to do so to avoid the draft or mandatory military service or took advantage of GI benefits afterward. During the 1950s, however, the pattern began to reverse. This was likely because women in the older cohorts entered middle age, they returned to school as their childrearing responsibilities lessened and educational opportunities became more widely available. At that point the relationship between genetic factors and attainment increased–that is, the women who were genetically predisposed to do well at school were more likely to return in later adulthood. Around that time, more young women also began taking advantage of increased opportunities for higher education.

Among the youngest respondents, born in 1982 and for whom educational opportunity has been the most equal, genetics is no stronger a predictor of postsecondary educational attainment for men than for women. 

Examining the interplay between genes and the environment can help us understand how gender inequalities in educational outcomes have changed over time. It also reveals that finishing college is not automatically the result of individual traits, but instead shaped by the social environment.


By : Amy August 

Date : July 1, 2020

Source : The Society Pages

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Study on traditional gender role beliefs suggests greater submission can undermine marital adjustment


Women who feel they have less power during a discussion with their husband are more likely to respond with submission compared to men who feel they have less power than their wife, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The study also suggests that traditional gender role beliefs play an important role in this association, which could have important consequences for the quality of one’s marriage

“Past research has shown that when men have lower power, they often behave more aggressively toward their romantic partners as a way of restoring masculinity. I was interested in understanding what women do when they have lower power, given that societal expectations about women’s behavior differ from those for men,” said researcher Paula R. Pietromonaco, a professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“We wondered whether women with lower power in marital conflict discussions might show more submissive behavior, which would fit with prescribed gender role norms suggesting that women should submit, avoid conflict, and preserve harmonious relationships.”

The researchers examined data from a longitudinal study of 204 opposite-sex newlywed couples, who completed assessments of gender role beliefs and then discussed an important unresolved conflict three times over the course of about three years. Immediately after each discussion, the participants separately rated their perceived power and reported submissive behavior during the interaction.

The participants also completed measures of marital adjustment, which assessed overall happiness with the relationship, affectionate behavior, how often the couples agreed on major decisions such as finances and religious matters, and other factors.

As expected, wives and husbands who felt they had less power during a specific discussion tended to report engaging in more submissive behavior, but this association was stronger for women than men. Pietromonaco and her colleagues also found that gender role beliefs moderated the association between perceived power and submissive behavior for wives but not husbands.

“When wives believe they have lower power relative to their husband in the context of a discussion about a disagreement, they are more likely to respond with greater submission (holding back, giving in, disengaging), and this pattern is especially true for women who are more accepting of traditional gender role beliefs,” Pietromonaco told PsyPost.

Some of those traditional gender roles included the belief that women are better suited than men to childcare and that humans evolved so that men have authority over the family.

“Understanding when spouses are more likely to show submission is important because submissive behavior is associated with poorer marital quality. In line with this idea, we found that, for women and men who were more accepting of traditional gender role beliefs, submission in response to low power was associated with a greater decline over time in marital adjustment,” Pietromonaco said.

But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.

“Although our study was longitudinal, the correlational data limits causal conclusions. Also, spouses reported on their submissive behavior because it is difficult to observe internal, inexpressive behaviors, but it will be important to examine actual submissive behavior if a reliable observational coding scheme can be developed,” Pietromonaco explained.

“Our couples were opposite-sex, and primarily White and well-educated and held relatively egalitarian views, and therefore future work will need to test whether these findings generalize to more diverse samples and whether the observed effects may be even more pronounced in samples including individuals who strongly endorse traditional gender role beliefs.”

The study, “Is Low Power Associated With Submission During Marital Conflict? Moderating Roles of Gender and Traditional Gender Role Beliefs“, was authored by Paula R. Pietromonaco, Nickola C. Overall, Lindsey A. Beck, and Sally I. Powers.


By : Eric W. Dolan 

Date : July 26, 2020

Source :

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What Is Gender-Inclusive Language And And Why Does It Matter?


Is it sexist to say you guys? Why do we have three terms of address for women—Miss, Ms., and Mrs.—and only Mr. for men? And what should you do when someone changes their pronouns? 

Language isn’t just talk. The ways people use language can reveal and enforce harmful stereotypes. Language can also be used to challenge prevailing norms and conventions. By using genderinclusive language, we not only signal that we value equity—we can also help speak it into being, advancing social progress for people of all genders.

Why should we pursue gender-inclusive language?

Language is always changing and will continue to change, sometimes ahead of societal beliefs and behaviors and sometimes lagging behind. While simply changing our language does not guarantee societal change, linguistic efforts have raised awareness of gendered linguistic bias in ways that have had direct social impact.

Efforts to make the English language more gender-equitable have had a long history in the U.S. Important advances were made from the 1960s to the 1980s, when feminist activists used language strategically to highlight women’s concerns on a national level. For instance, in the 1970s, activists pushed the term domestic violence into the public lexicon, helping portray it as a widespread social problem. Civil rights and feminist activists also made deliberate efforts to introduce Ms. as a term of address that designates gender, but not marital status—just like Mr. The term Mx. (pronounced “mix”), a term of address for transgender or non-gender-binary individuals, was also coined in the 1970s. Today, the term Ms. is widely used in the U.S. In the United Kingdom, Mx. is also an option on many government forms, drivers’ licenses, bank paperwork, and so on.

Early activist efforts also tackled pronouns, especially the use of so-called ‘generic’ pronouns, and the gender-skewed perceptions they cause. For instance, when job ads are described in masculine language (as in, “The job applicant should submit his resume to…”), men feel especially encouraged to apply—and women tend to refrain. Biased language, which can surface as microaggressions, also correlates with diminished workplace satisfaction and can affect physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health.

Nowadays, the use of singular they—as in, “If a student misses class, they must make up their work”— is on the rise as a gender-neutral preferred pronoun. Although originally decried by 18th-century British grammarians, who argued that masculine forms are more “comprehensive,” the usage is increasingly acceptable in formal English, and widely used in informal English worldwide. Singular they is also an important gender-inclusive pronoun for those who identify as transgender, gender-fluid, or non-binary. As a result, in 2015, members of the American Dialect Society voted the singular they Word of the Year.

What does gender-inclusive language look like?

People are capable and powerful linguistic agents. Even small shifts in how we use language can advance social change—or signal change that may be on its way. A good example is you guys, a widespread term that many people claim is gender-neutral. Increasingly, however, English users are recognizing the term’s masculine bent, opting instead for non-gendered words such as you all, y’all, or folks. 

It can be hard to change one’s linguistic habits, especially those developed over a lifetime. But it is possible. Research finds that people who use gender-inclusive language tend to do so because they are not only aware of gender-based linguistic inequalities, but also actively seek linguistic change. Here are some suggestions for implementing gender-inclusive language, whether in workplaces or schools, via policies or regulations, or simply as part of everyday interactions:

Pay attention to names and naming conventions. Ask for a person’s preferred name and pronouns, instead of assuming. When referring to women, use Ms. unless otherwise specified. When referring to someone’s spouse or child, ask “Is their last name the same as yours or different?” Accept that preferred names, pronouns, and titles may change over time.

Avoid using asymmetrical language. If referring to men as men, also refer to women as women, not as girls, ladies, or females. If referring to men by titles (such as Dr. or Mr.), do the same for women (especially in meetings, during speaker panels, at conferences, etc.). Consider gender neutral titles, such as M., or job-specific titles such as Prof. or Chair. 

Make sure that official forms and surveys offer options. Allow individuals to designate their own gender, or if it is necessary to provide options, include they as an alternative to the traditional male/female binary. Understand that previous official documentation may not reflect an individual’s preferred name, pronouns, or titles. Consider asking individuals to designate their spouse or partner rather than husband or wife or to identify the parent or guardian rather than the mother or father. 

Create a gender-inclusive culture. Ensure that official records, directories, databases, forms, etc. reflect preferred names and pronouns. Encourage individuals to share their preferred name and pronouns, and make the effort to consistently use them. When mistakes happen, acknowledge them, reflect on them, and implement strategies for change. Create a style guide or gender-neutral language policy. Hold trainings to establish a comprehensively inclusive climate. 

Promote an active, critical organization space. Listen to colleagues, staff, students, and employees when they report experiencing hostile environments or interactions. Avoid considering diversity work as being finished, closed, or good enough. Establish a standing committee to review and incorporate scholarly research and activism, gather feedback, and assess state and federal policies regarding discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation in the workplace or elsewhere.



This brief was composed with J. Inscoe. Read more in Christine Mallinson, “Language and Its Everyday Revolutionary Potential: Feminist Linguistic Activism in the United States,” The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Women’s Social Movement Activism (2017): 419–439.



By : Christine Mallinson and J. Inscoe, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Date : May 29,2020

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Childcare during a global pandemic: Many women left juggling work and childcare, but men do their share when they are not working


The closure of schools and nurseries during the current pandemic has led to a huge burden of additional childcare for parents. This column discusses how survey data collected at the beginning of May 2020 that asked about employment and childcare pre- and post-COVID to shows that women have borne the majority of this burden and many have been left juggling work and childcare. However, fathers have also increased the time they spend on childcare and, when they are not working, there is an equal allocation.

Governments around the world responded to COVID-19 by shutting schools, nurseries and most forms of childcare in order to stop the spread of the virus. Overnight, parents with young children faced a very large additional burden of childcare, raising issues of how working parents have coped with looking after children and how the additional childcare has been shared within the household. Prior to COVID-19, childcare was shared unequally between working mothers and fathers (mothers do an estimated two-thirds in the UK). The unequal division of childcare is a leading factor in explaining the gender pay gap (Kleven et al. 2019).

The division of domestic labour during lockdown has followed a similar pattern to that pre-COVID-19. Women have borne the majority of the additional burden of childcare. They are also doing a lot more juggling of childcare and work than men are. The time that women spend on childcare is less sensitive to their employment than it is for men, and they do a lot of childcare even when they are still working. Short term, this appears to be negatively impacting their mental health (Adams-Prassl et al. 2020b); longer-term this may impact negatively on their careers and worsen gender pay gaps. More positively, there have been baby steps towards a more equal allocation. Many men have had their working hours reduced or lost their jobs since lockdown and, in households where men have more time on their hands because they are furloughed or been made unemployed, there is an equal sharing of childcare. This offers a glimmer of hope for a more positive future in terms of the domestic division of labour. 

These are the main findings from survey data we collected at the beginning of May 2020 that asked about employment and childcare pre- and post-COVID (Sevilla and Smith 2020). A similar story emerges from other post-COVID survey evidence reported in Adams-Prassl et al. (2020a) and Andrews et al. (2020). An advantage of our survey is that we can directly compare the allocation of childcare within households before and after lockdown, allowing us to control for unobserved heterogeneity (e.g. preferences for allocating childcare) that may be correlated with childcare and employment outcomes.

In more detail, the picture of the domestic division of childcare in lockdown is the following: 

There is a substantial burden of childcare for families with young children, who are doing the equivalent of a working week of additional childcare, often on top of paid work. We asked survey respondents to report the number of hours of additional childcare done per day by themselves and their partner. The mean additional childcare across the week (7 days) is 49 hours per household (median = 40). This averages across families with young children (aged <=12).1 Calculating the within-household childcare allocation, we find that, on average, women are responsible for doing 63% of the additional childcare. This is a slight narrowing on the pre-lockdown share.   

Part of the explanation for why women do more childcare is that are less likely still to be working. Looking at all working-age respondents, women are 5 percentage points less likely than men still to be working (3 percentage points more likely to be on furlough and 2 percentage points more likely to have lost their jobs). The gender gap among those with young children is bigger at 10 percentage points.2 This makes the effect of COVID-19 different to previous recessions that hit men worse. One reason for the gender differential is that women work in sectors (retail, leisure) that have been harder hit by social distancing measures (Alon et al. 2020, Hupuak and Petrongolo 2020, Joyce and Xu 2020), although they are also more likely to be key workers. However, including controls for sector of employment does not eliminate the gap. It is also plausible that the differential pattern of job loss may in part be driven by additional childcare needs: the probability that women are not working is positively correlated with the within-household share of childcare that they did pre-COVID-19 – in other words, women who were doing more childcare prior to COVID-19 are more likely not to be working during lockdown.

The fact that women are less likely to be working than men cannot fully account for their greater burden of childcare. The amount of time women spend on childcare is much less sensitive to their employment than it is for men. Women do a lot of childcare irrespective of whether they are working or not, while men put in a lot more childcare when they are not working compared to when they are. This means that women are doing a lot more juggling of work and childcare than men are, which may be very stressful. It also means that mothers’ childcare comes more at the expense of their productivity (and future career prospects) than it does for fathers’. When working from home during lockdown, it is hard to be as productive as someone without children if you are juggling work with near full-time childcare. Coviello et al. (2015) show that judges who juggle more trials at once, instead of working sequentially on a few of them at each unit of time, take longer in closing a case. Adams (2020) shows that fragmented work patterns among mothers with young children is associated with lower pay. In academia there is anecdotal and some statistical evidence that the share of working papers being published and submissions to journals by women has fallen post-COVID-19 and that the share of new work on COVID-19 from women is particularly low (Amano-Patino et al. 2020, Shurchkov 2020). Employers need to recognise – and take measures to compensate parents for – the lockdown childcare burden.

However, even though fathers are doing a smaller share than mothers, the sheer scale of the additional burden of childcare has meant that there has been a sizeable increase in childcare done by fathers (an average of 19 hours according to our self-reported data). Fathers who are not working – and, to a lesser extent, those who were working from home – have substantially increased the number of hours that they do and assumed an equal (or in some cases greater than equal share) share of childcare. This has driven a slight reduction in the within-household gender gap (i.e. the excess of the share of childcare done by women over the share of childcare done by men) from 30.6 percentage points to 27.2 percentage points.

This provides a glimmer of hope for a more equal allocation in the future. The existing literature on the long-term effects of changes in domestic labour is mixed. Some evidence from paternity leave policies suggests that temporary changes can have longer-term effects on social norms, evidenced by increases in the time that fathers spend in household activities, including childcare (Ferre and Gonzalez 2019, Patnaik 2019). Two things are distinctive about COVID-19 lockdowns. The first is the scale of the demand-side shock. The changes have been profound. The total amount of childcare being done at home completely dwarves usual amounts because of the closure of almost all formal childcare. The impact has also been across the board, affecting all families, meaning that almost all men have increased the quantity of childcare that they do. But the second difference is that this is not a deliberate policy to promote a more equal distribution of childcare; changes in the division of labour are an unintended consequence of measures to stop a virus spreading. The changes that have been brought about may need to be recognised and reinforced to have longer-term effects.   





Adams, A (2020) “The Gender Wage Gap on an Online Labour Market: The Cost of Interruptions” CEPR Discussion Paper DP14294

Adams-Prassl, A, T Boneva, M Golin and C Rauh (2020a), “Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: Evidence from Real Time Surveys” IZA Discussion Paper 13183

Adams-Prassl, A, T Boneva, M Golin and C Rauh (2020b) “The Impact of the Coronavirus Lockdown on Mental Health: Evidence from the US”.

Alon, T, M Doepke, J Olmstead-Rumsey and M Tertilt (2020) “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on gender equality”,, 19 April.

Amano-Patino, N, E Faraglia, C Giannitsarou and Z Hasna (2020) “Who is doing new research in the time of COVID-19? Not the female economists”,, 2 May.

Andew, A, S Cattan, M Costa Dias, C Farquharson, L Kraftman, S Krutikova, A Phimister and A Sevilla (2020) “How are mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?”, IFS Briefing note.

Farré, L and L González (2019) “Does paternity leave reduce fertility?” Journal of Public Economics 172: 52–66.

Farré, L and L González (2020) “¿Quién Se Encarga de Las Tareas Domésticas Durante El Confinamiento? Covid-19, Mercado de Trabajo Y Uso Del Tiempo En El Hogar”, Nada Es Gratis, 23 April.

Hupkau, C and B Petrongolo (2020) “COVID-19 and gender gaps: Latest evidence and lessons from the UK”,, 22 April. 

Joyce, R and X Xu (2020) “Sector shutdowns during the coronavirus crisis: which workers are most exposed?”, IFS briefing note.

Kleven, H, C Landais and J Søgaard (2019) "Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark", American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 11: 181-209

Patnaik, A (2019) “Reserving time for Daddy: the consequences of fathers’ quotas”, Journal of Labor Economics 37: 1009–59

Sevilla, A and S Smith (2020) “Baby steps: The gender division of childcare during the COVID19 pandemic”, Covid Economics 23.

Shurchkov, O (2020) “Is COVID-19 Turning Back the Clock on Gender Equality in Academia?”, Medium, 23 April.



1 Adams-Prassl et al. (2020a) asked men and women to report hours spent looking after children and home-schooling. Combining the two activities, mean total childcare across weekdays (5 days) is 35 hours. This averages across all families.

2 Both the qualitative and quantitative findings on scale of job loss are almost identical to those in other studies (Adams-Prassl et al. 2020a, Andrews et al. 2020).


By : Almudena Sevilla and Sarah Smith

Date : June 16, 2020


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