An Examination of Gender Differences in the Anticipated Work–Family Balance in Portuguese Emerging Adults

Although most of young adults envision a fully participation in work and family domains, research has indicated that they often fail to plan adequately for combining work and family roles. Additionally, research has documented both gender similarities and gender differences with regard to expectations to combine future work and family roles in the future.  This study examined the effect of gender on anticipated work–family balance among 236 Portuguese emerging adults enrolled in higher education.  Participants completed the anticipated work-family balance scale, anticipated strategies to reconcile work and family scale, attitudes towards gender roles scale, the life role salience scale (commitment to work and commitment to parenting) and a background questionnaire. Gender differences were found with female emergent adults having significantly higher level of commitment to work, commitment to parenting, higher levels of renouncement to reconcile work and family and significantly lower level of anticipated work-family balance. Male emergent adults demonstrated a significantly higher level of negotiation to reconcile work and family and higher levels of anticipated work-family balance. No differences were found in the attitudes towards gender roles.

An integrative model of antecedents of anticipated work-family balance was tested, separately to male and female subsamples, using SEM. Gender differences were found in the relationships among commitment to work, commitment to parenting, anticipated strategies to reconcile work and family and anticipated work-family balance.

These results generally provide support for previous research indicating that an asymmetry continues to exist between female and male emergent adults in how they anticipate work-family balance. The limitations and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Cláudia Andrade

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