American Sociological Association

Even Supermoms Get the Blues: Employment, Gender Attitudes, and Depression

This study examines how gender attitudes moderate the relationship between employment and depressive symptoms using data from the 1987 to 2006 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. Results indicate that at age 40, the association of employment with reduced symptoms of depression is greatest for mothers who had previously expressed support for traditional gender roles. This finding was robust to controls for prior depressive symptoms. In contrast, the association of employment and depressive symptoms at age 40 does not vary by earlier gender attitudes among childless women. Results suggest that in light of women’s disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities and limited employer supports for parents, skepticism over mothers’ ability to “do it all” may mitigate the stress of work-family role strain and allow mothers with more traditional gender attitudes to receive greater protection against depressive symptoms from employment.

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Katrina Leupp





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