How does the division of labor contribute to gender stereotypes and discrimination?


People hold a generally accurate stereotype that women fulfill more household responsibilities, while men spend relatively more time at work (Bianchi et al., 2012; Poulin-Dubois et al., 2002). On top of the division of labor at home, there is occupational segregation in the labor force (Bertrand & Hallock, 2001; Blau & Kahn, 2017; Goldin, 2014; Jarman et al., 2012; Levanon & Grusky, 2016). Observations of the division of labor lead people to infer women are dispositionally more communal and less agentic relative to men (Eagly & Steffen, 1984; Hoffman & Hurst, 1990; Koenig & Eagly, 2014). In this paper, I argue that the division of labor by gender both at home and work contributes to discrimination (i.e., less recognition, with greater penalties) against women in the workplace through its effects on descriptive, prescriptive, and proscriptive stereotypes about agency and communion. Discrimination, in turn, contributes to persistent gender differences in labor market outcomes.

Keana Richards
Keana Richards
Doctoral researcher

Studying psychology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania.