Sex Roles

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 643-661

First online:

Attitude toward motherhood: Gender, generational, and religious comparisons

  • Rachel T. Hare-MustinAffiliated withHarvard University
  • , Sheila Kishler BennettAffiliated withBryn Mawr College
  • , Patricia C. BroderickAffiliated withVillanova University

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Attitudes toward mothering and motherhood are examined within a sample representative of college-educated young adults and their mothers. Factor structures are compared based upon response to the 40-item Motherhood Inventory. Two factors are indicated for males: a “chauvinism” factor describing women as appropriately serving and providing for men and children, and a factor that represents acceptance of contraceptive choice for women. For younger women, the theme of reproductive freedom includes autonomy in choice of motherhood as well as personal fulfillment; a second factor describes traditional rewards and responsibilities of motherhood. For older women, a single dominant factor represents a highly conventionalized definition of women's familial roles. On a scale of acceptance of reproductive freedom (the single common dimension observed for all groups), men score lower than women and Catholics score lower than non-Catholics.