Transitions in Adulthood and Women’s Attitudes toward The Gender Division of Labor in South Korea

  • Yoonjoo LeeEmail author
Original Paper



Despite extensive literature describing the associations between key life transitions from adolescence to adulthood and attitudes toward the gender division of labor, little research has been conducted to examine these associations among East Asian women who transition to adulthood in their unique context. Guided by interest-based and exposure-based explanations, we examined how transitions in adulthood are associated with young women’s attitudes toward the gender division of labor in South Korea. We also investigated whether the influence of employment transition strengthens or weakens when combined with marital and parenthood transitions.


Our sample drawn from the 2007–2014 Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families consisted of 870 women aged 19–28 years in 2007 (3,498 person-waves observations). The data were modeled using fixed effects logistic regression models.


Entering the labor market (OR = 1.40) and being continuously employed (OR = 1.61) were associated with increased support for egalitarian attitudes toward the gender division of labor. These liberalizing effects were further augmented when women remained married (OR = 1.98), were about to marry (OR = 4.29), or were mothers of one or more children (OR = 2.08).


Young Korean women develop egalitarian attitudes toward the gender division of labor when they encounter situations that strongly resonate with egalitarian ideals or benefit from gains through employment. This study advances how women’s attitudes toward the gender division of labor are understood by revealing both the singular influences of distinct transitions and the interactive influences of combined transitions in the South Korean context.


Fixed effects Gender division of labor South Korea Transitions Women Young adults 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that the author has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Allison, P. (2005). Fixed effects regression methods for longitudinal data using SAS. Cary: SAS Institute Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Baetschmann, G., Staub, K. E., & Winkelmann, R. (2011). Consistent estimation of the fixed effects ordered logit model. IZA Discussion Paper No 5443.Google Scholar
  3. Baxter, J., Buchler, S., Perales, F., & Western, M. (2015). A life-changing event: first births and men’s and women’s attitudes to mothering and gender divisions of labor. Social Forces, 93, 989–1014. Scholar
  4. Bolzendahl, C. I., & Myers, D. J. (2004). Feminist attitudes and support for gender equality: opinion change in women and men, 1974-1998. Social Forces, 83, 759–790. Scholar
  5. Bryant, A. N. (2003). Changes in attitudes toward women’s roles: predicting gender-role traditionalism among college students. Sex Roles, 48, 131–142. Scholar
  6. Bumpass, L. L., Rindfuss, R. R., Choe, M. K., & Tsuya, N. O. (2009). The institutional context of low fertility: the case of Japan. Asian Population Studies, 5, 215–235. Scholar
  7. Corrigall, E. A., & Konrad, A. M. (2007). Gender role attitudes and careers: a longitudinal study. Sex Roles, 56, 847–855. Scholar
  8. Cotter, D., Hermsen, J. M., & Vanneman, R. (2011). The end of the gender revolution? Gender role attitudes from 1977 to 2008. American Journal of Sociology, 117, 259–289. Scholar
  9. Cunningham, M., Beutel, A. M., Barber, J. S., & Thornton, A. (2005). Reciprocal relationships between attitudes about gender and social contexts during young adulthood. Social Science Review, 34, 862–892. Scholar
  10. Davis, S. N. (2007). Gender ideology construction from adolescence to young adulthood. Social Science Review, 36, 1021–1041. Scholar
  11. Davis, S. N., & Greenstein, T. N. (2009). Gender ideology: components, predictors, and consequences. Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 87–105. Scholar
  12. Fan, P.-L., & Marini, M. M. (2000). Influences on gender-role attitudes during the transition to adulthood. Social Science Research, 29, 258–283. Scholar
  13. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gadallah, M., Roushdy, R., & Sieverding, M. (2017). Young people’s gender role attitudes over the transition to adulthood in Egypt. Working paper in Economic Research Forum.Google Scholar
  15. Jeoung, J. (2016). The effects of transitions in parental status changes on hours of unpaid work of men and women. Family and Culture, 28(2), 152–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim, E. H.-W., & Cheung, A. K.-L. (2015). Women’s attitudes toward family formation and life stage transitions: a longitudinal study in Korea. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77, 1074–1090. Scholar
  17. Kim, S. (2013). Factors affecting gender-role stereotype. Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies, 44, 89–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kim, Y., & Ryu, Y. (2016). A comparative analysis on the structural determinants of male gender role attitudes across 26 countries. Social Science Research Review, 32, 271–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ko, J.-Y. (2007). The South Korean experience in economic development. In G. Leclerc & C. A. S. Hall (Eds) Making world development work: Scientific alternatives to neoclassical economic theory (pp. 127–141). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  20. Korean Women’s Development Institute (2016). User’s guide for the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families, Wave 1 to Wave 5.
  21. Kraaykamp, G. (2012). Employment status and family role attitudes: A trend analysis for the Netherlands. International Sociology, 27, 308–329. Scholar
  22. Moors, G. (2003). Estimating the reciprocal effect of gender role attitudes and family formation: A log-linear path model with latent variables. European Journal of Population, 19, 199–221. Scholar
  23. Olson, J. E., Frieze, I. H., & Wall, S., et al. (2007). Beliefs in equality for women and men as related to economic factors in Central and Eastern Europe and the United States. Sex Roles, 56, 297–308. Scholar
  24. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2017). Indicators of gender equality in employment.
  25. Raymo, J., Park, H., Xie, Y., & Yeung, W.-J. (2015). Marriage and family in East Asia: continuity and Change. Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 471–492. Scholar
  26. Schober, P., & Scott, J. (2012). Maternal employment and gender role attitudes: dissonance among British men and women in the transition to parenthood. Work Employment & Society, 26, 514–530. Scholar
  27. Scott, J., Alwin, D. F., & Braun, M. (1996). Generational changes in gender-role attitudes: Britain in a cross-national perspective. Sociology, 30, 471–492. Scholar
  28. Seong, M. (2011). Gender role attitudes and determinants in the early 21st century in South Korea. Social Science Research Review, 27, 289–316.Google Scholar
  29. Statistics Korea (2017a). Opinions on women in the work force (13 years old and over).
  30. Tallichet, S., & Willits, F. (1986). Gender-role attitude change of young women: influential factors from a panel study. Social Psychology Quarterly, 49, 219–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. van Egmond, M., Baxter, J., Buchler, S., & Western, M. (2010). A stalled revolution? Gender role attitudes in Australia, 1986-2005. Journal of Population Research, 27, 147–168. Scholar
  32. Vespa, J. (2009). Gender ideology construction: a life course and intersectional approach. Gender & Sociology, 23, 363–287. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child Development and Family Studies, College of Human EcologySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations