, Volume 35, Issue 11-12, pp 781-800

Correlates of gender role orientation during pregnancy and the postpartum

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This study was designed to examine the relationship between gender role orientation and psychological adjustment during pregnancy and the postpartum period in a large sample of French-speaking Caucasian mothers. Gender role was assessed with the Bem Sex Role Inventory, which classifies subjects into four categories: androgynous, masculine, feminine, and undifferentiated. A discriminant analysis showed a relationship between androgyny and the following measures of psychological adaptation: self-esteem, satisfaction with social support, and level of apprehension toward perinatal stressors. The masculine gender role was linked with self-esteem, work involvement, age, and severity of perinatal stress. No relationship was found between gender role and the level of antenatal or postnatal depressive symptomatology. Stress, marital support, and social support were among the predictors of postpartum depression, which underlined the importance of taking these variables into account when studying the well-being of mothers during the postnatal period. Results are discussed in light of previous literature on the association between gender role and motherhood. The limitations of Bem's model and inventory are also considered.

This article was written as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. in psychology at the Université de Montréal. The research reported in this article was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Marc Berthiaume and by a grant from Health and Welfare Canada to the other authors. The authors would like to express their thanks to Marc Dumont for sharing his statistical expertise.