Attitudes about affirmative action for women: The role of children in shaping parents’ interests

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This paper uses pooled cross-sectional data from the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 General Social Surveys (GSS), a nationally representative sample of the U.S. adult population, to assess how employed parents’ attitudes about affirmative action for women are influenced by their children’s gender. The analytic sample includes 1,695 employed respondents. Findings based on logistic regression indicate that having daughters (and no sons) magnifies employed mothers’ support for affirmative action for women and minimizes employed fathers’ support. Conversely, having sons (and no daughters) does not suppress mothers’ support for affirmative action for women, nor does it differentiate men’s attitudes about affirmative action. We speculate about how these patterns in parents’ attitudes relate to self interest and group interest (i.e., their children’s future work experiences).


Affirmative action for women; Affirmative action programs; Attitudes; Children; Fathers – Attitudes; Gender; Mothers – Attitudes; Sex


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Politics and Social Change | Sociology


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