Gender Role Beliefs May Differ in Mothers Who Ask to Know the Sex of Their Baby

A study by researchers at Ohio State University finds that women who choose not to learn the gender of their baby before birth tend to have more egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society. The researchers gave a series of tests to expectant mothers to determine personality traits, gender role beliefs, and expectations relating to parenting perfectionism. About two-thirds of the expectant mothers learned the sex of their baby before birth.

Letitia Kotila, a doctoral student in human sciences at Ohio State and the lead author of the study, says that “women who choose not to learn their baby’s sex may not worry about having clothes, toys, and colors for their child that match traditional gender expectations. Expectant mothers’ choice on whether to find out their baby’s sex may show gender role attitudes that shape how they raise their children.”

Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, an associate professor of human sciences and a co-author of the study, stated, “A conscientious, egalitarian, expectant mother may want to wait to find out the sex of the baby because she doesn’t want to create an environment that reinforces old gender stereotypes. If you know ahead of time that you are having a girl, are you layering on all the pink and purple in a way that is going to push an extremely feminine ideal on your child?”

The article, “Boy or Girl? Maternal Psychological Correlates of Knowing Fetal Sex,” was published on the website of the journal Personality and Individuals Differences. It may be accessed here.


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