Dissertation Research

Trusting Men with Children: Understanding Childcare as Gendered Work

In the past fifty years, women’s lifestyles and behaviors have changed at a significantly faster pace than men’s. This asymmetry is perhaps most clear within the realm of care work. Women across the world perform the lion’s share of caregiving in both their own families and as paid workers. Primary caregiving remains “women’s work”; stay-at-home fathers, single dads, and male childcare workers are still rarities. My dissertation identifies individual, normative, and institutional factors which limit men’s participation in the realm of childcare. Using data from a series of online survey experiments, I show that perceptions of men as insufficient and inherently inferior caregivers may act as barriers to men’s increased involvement in the lives of children. In a series of three studies, I identify a variety of ways that essentialist beliefs and gendered expectations actively reproduce the uneven division of childcare in both paid and unpaid care settings.

Research on Romantic and Sexual Relationships

Commitment Timing in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Relationships (Link)

Using the representative and longitudinal dataset How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST), we analyze the relative timing of relationship formation and cohabitation entry among same-sex and different-sex couples. In doing so, we consider the extent to which gender and sexuality affect private negotiations regarding the progression of intimate relationships. We find that rates of romantic relationship initiation are highest for male same-sex couples relative to female same-sex couples and different-sex couples. Contrary to popular conceptions of lesbians as eager to commit, our results indicate that after controlling for couple age there are no significant differences in relative rates of cohabitation among couple types.

Citation: Orth, Taylor and Michael Rosenfeld. 2018. “Commitment Timing in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Relationships.” Population Review 57(1):1-19.

Sexual Behavior and Satisfaction in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Relationships

For many years, scholars have argued that male and female sexuality are fundamentally different and that men and women in sexual relationships negotiate these differences. Given that scientific data on sex is difficult to collect and often challenging to analyze, very little empirical evidence has been available to evaluate the veracity of this claim.This study evaluates gender differences in sexual behavior and satisfaction among same-sex and different-sex couples through an analysis of two nationally representative surveys, How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST) and The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Findings suggest that sexual frequency is significantly lower for female same-sex couples relative to different-sex or male same-sex couples. In regard to sexual satisfaction, male same-sex couples report significantly lower satisfaction relative to other couples. Additionally, sex frequency appears to matter more for female satisfaction than it does for male satisfaction. Overall, the results from this study support the notion that sexual relationships function differently in the absence of a male partner, but present a more complex picture than has been previously accepted.