An Anti-Feminist Backlash? Female Labour Market Participation and Gender Conservatism in Europe
Rettl, Paula, Bolet, Diane, De Vries, Catherine, Cremaschi, Simone, Abou-Chadi, Tarik, and Pardos-Prado, Sergi
This study examines how increased participation of women in the labor market affects the distribution of egalitarian gender attitudes in society. We argue that increased female labor market participation might generate a anti-feminist backlash, because it triggers grievances for certain men and women. For men, increased female labor force participation intensifies competition in the labor market, especially among men who are already economically vulnerable (labor market competition channel). For women, increased female labor force participation might also be threatening if they are financially dependent on men in their household and thus worry about the economic standing of men in their household (household economics channel). We test these conjectures in two studies. The first study uses European Social Survey (ESS) data from over 20 European countries to show the relationship between increased labor market competition of women and more gender conservative attitudes. By linking ESS data to electoral data, we also explore the consequences of such attitudinal change on vote intentions and behavior. The second study relies on panel data from Switzerland to better identify the mechanisms. We conclude that increased labor market competition of women generated a backlash in Europe, but that this is not only driven by men, but is also by women who are financially dependent on men.