Gender Dynamics in Mexican American Families: Connecting Mothers', Fathers', and Youths' Experiences

Chun Bun Lam, Susan M. McHale, Kimberly Updegraff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Study goals were to examine the conditions under which congruent and incongruent patterns of parents' division of household labor and gender role attitudes emerged, and the implications of these patterns for youth gender development. Questionnaire and phone diary data were collected from mothers, fathers, and youths from 236 Mexican American families living in the southwestern US. Preliminary cluster analysis identified three patterns: Traditional divisions of labor and traditional attitudes, egalitarian divisions of labor and egalitarian attitudes, and an incongruent pattern, with a traditional division of labor but egalitarian attitudes. MANOVAs, and follow-up, mixed- and between-group ANOVAs, revealed that these groups of families differed in parents' time constraints, socioeconomic resources, and cultural orientations. Mothers in the congruent egalitarian group worked more hours and earned higher incomes as compared to mothers in the congruent traditional and incongruent groups, and the emergence of the incongruent group was grounded in within-family, interparental differences in work hours and incomes. Parents' patterns of gendered practices and beliefs were linked to their youths' housework participation, time with mothers versus fathers, and gender role attitudes. Youths in the congruent traditional group reported more traditional gender role attitudes than did youths in the congruent egalitarian and incongruent groups, and gender atypical housework participation and time with parents were only observed in the congruent egalitarian group. Findings demonstrate the utility of a within-family design to understand complex gendered phenomena, and highlight the multidimensional nature of gender and the importance of contextualizing the study of ethnic minorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalSex Roles
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Gender role attitudes
  • Gender socialization
  • Household labor
  • Mexican American families
  • Pattern analytic approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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