Saturday, January 18, 2014

On Studies: On Black Fathers Doing Well And On The Importance Of Women Keeping Their Names When Marrying

 On Fathering By Race And Ethnicity

This study (pdf) based on interviews about parenting is a much-needed corrective to those ideas that the black families are in crisis because of the absent fathers.  Though it is true that a larger percentage of black fathers do not live in the same household with their children, this does not mean that black fathers within the groups "lives with their children" or "does not live with their children" do worse than white fathers or Latino fathers etc.  Indeed, they do  better or equally well*, as the table below describes**:

 The statistically significant differences in the overall study, when it comes to gender and ethnicity, are not between black fathers and fathers of other racial or ethnic groups, but most likely to be found between Latino fathers and fathers of other ethnic groups.  I think this suggests that cultural differences about gender roles matter when it comes to how parenting chores are shared, which is great news because we can affect cultural ideas and they are moving towards shared parenting by mothers and fathers.

As an aside, the questions in this study also remind us how parenting is defined differently for fathers and mothers.  I doubt any study about  mothers would assume that eating meals with their children is a measure of parenting or involvement with their children.  It sounds like a fairly minimal measure of being present.  Having the responses to all the same questions by mothers (and by the rage, ethnicity, age and education etc. of them) would have been useful, too.

On The Meaning Of Women Keeping Their Name When Marrying

ADDED 1/19/2014:  See the correction at the top of Amanda's post.  The Dutch study she writes about has been retracted as fraudulent.  Note that this does NOT tell us anything about possible results from other such studies.  It just means that the particular study was retracted.  What I say about things such studies should take into account below still applies, however. 

Amanda writes about studies which find that women who keep their birth names when marrying are viewed differently than those who take their husband's last name.  A Dutch study found:

A woman who took her partner’s name … was judged as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent, and less ambitious in comparison with a woman who kept her own name. A woman with her own name, on the other hand, was judged as less caring, more independent, more ambitious, more intelligent, and more competent. 
I haven't gone backwards in the link chain to the original studies, sorry.  Too much work, too little goddess energy, so I can't say much about the differences between countries in the percentage of women who keep their names.  That percentage matters greatly, because if few women keep their birth names at marriage, then the signal "I keep my name" tends to be mostly about the stereotypes of what it means when a women doesn't do the usual and traditional thing of taking her husband's name.  If more women choose the option of keeping the birth name, the stereotype gets misty or evaporates.  I mention all this because it matters when we apply, say, Dutch data, to the US setting or the setting in some country where keeping birth names is very common.

This links to the possibility that women who keep their birth names indeed might be more ambitious and independent etc. than those who do not, and that this is what drives the difference in perceptions, at least in countries where keeping one's birth name is rare.

Amanda on that possibility:

The difference in perception matters on an individual level, as the Dutch researchers found that name-keepers are more likely to be hired for jobs and are hired at higher salaries. Much higher salaries, in fact, making nearly $500 a month more.

The snag, when it comes to the idea that keeping one's birth name could therefore result in higher earnings, is that this might not be the case if the initial group of women who keep their birth names indeed are more ambitious and more focused on getting promoted or hired.  In other words, the causality might not run from "keeping one's name" to "higher earnings" but  from "being career focused" to both "keeping one's name" and "higher earnings."

*Not all the differences between the numbers given for black, white and Latino fathers are statistically significant, so not all the differences can be ranked.
**I didn't find this table in the pdf for the study summary.  It may have been created by someone else from the study data or it may be available in some more detailed manuscript of the study.  But as far as I can tell the numbers do come from the study, only they ignore the data on fathers who did these things less often than daily.