Paying a Price for Domestic Equality: Risk Factors for Backlash Against Nontraditional Husbands

Kimberly E. Chaney, Laurie A. Rudman, Janell C. Fetterolf, Danielle M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


For the sake of gender equality, it is vital to determine why husbands who relieve their wives’ domestic burden are stigmatized as “unmanly” (Brescoll and Uhlmann in Psychol Women Q 29(4):436–445, 2005; Rudman and Mescher in J Soc Issues 69(2):322–340, 2013). We used biographical vignettes to examine whether masculinity penalties stem from not earning income (a male prescription) or performing domestic labor (“acting like women”). In Experiment 1, we held husbands’ domestic labor constant but manipulated how much income they earned from home; in Experiment 2, we held husbands’ earnings constant but varied their domestic labor. In Experiment 1, only low-income husbands were stigmatized (e.g., viewed as weaker than comparable wives); successful husbands working from home were spared penalties. In Experiment 2, husbands who performed 50 or 30% of the domestic labor were viewed similarly and more favorably than husbands who did 70%. Thus, across two experiments, men can relieve women’s domestic burden without penalty provided they also earn some income and do not shoulder domestic inequality themselves. These findings are optimistic for domestic and gender equality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalGender Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies


  • Backlash theory
  • Close relationships
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Social role theory


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