Men’s lack of fit for childcare - A matter of denying childcare competences or of suspecting child abuse?

Nater, Christa; Kocher, Deborah; Sczesny, Sabine (May 2017). Men’s lack of fit for childcare - A matter of denying childcare competences or of suspecting child abuse? (Unpublished). In: Congress of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP). Dublin, Ireland. 17.05.-20.05.2017.

Men working in childcare are confronted with gender stereotypes and prejudice. The question arises whether men are perceived as not competent for this job (Eagly, Wood & Diekman, 2000) or whether they are raising suspicion of child abuse (Nentwich et al., 2013)? Both concerns may result in a perceived lack-of fit of men for childcare. We hypothesized that male (compared to female) caregivers are perceived as less suitable due to their lower ascribed childcare competences (e.g., not able to console a sad child) and/or higher assumed risk of child abuse.
The experiment was based on a 2 (Caregiver’s gender: female vs. male) x 2 (Caregiver’s personality: communal vs. agentic) between-subjects design. The sample consisted of 242 participants (177 women; MAge=34.3, SD=12.5; non-students).
Results: First, communal (vs. agentic) caregivers were perceived as more suitable, F(1, 241)=81.22, p<.001, ƞ2=0.25. Second, male (vs. female) caregivers received lower suitability ratings, F(1, 241)=8.30, p=.004, ƞ2=0.33. Parallel mediation analysis showed an indirect effect of caregiver’s gender on perceived suitability through ascribed childcare competences (0.18, 95% CI [0.01, 0.38]), but not through assumed risk of child abuse (0.01, 95% CI [-0.03, 0.06]).
People with communal personality traits fit the role requirements of caregivers better. Yet, the female – but not the male – gender is still highly aligned with nurturing activities. For the first time, the present findings document how biased social perception contributes to male childcare givers discrimination in the thus-far female-dominated field.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Nater, Christa, Sczesny, Sabine


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Christa Nater

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2017 16:29

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:02


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