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Journal Article

Gender, Multiple Roles, Role Meaning, and Mental Health

Robin W. Simon
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 182-194
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137224
Page Count: 13
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Gender, Multiple Roles, Role Meaning, and Mental Health
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Abstract

This paper examines gender differences in the consequences of combining spouse, parent, and worker roles for mental health. I suggest that work and family roles have different meanings for males and females, and that differences in the meaning of these roles may be partially responsible for why the mental health advantages of holding multiple roles are fewer for women than for men. Based on qualitative analyses of follow-up, in-depth interviews with 40 employed married parents who participated in a community panel study of mental health, I find that sex differences in the perceived relationship between work and family roles may help account for sex differences in distress by contributing to male-female differences in both the extent and nature of work-parent conflicts, attributions of responsibility for marital problems, feelings of guilt, and self-evaluations as parents and spouses. By identifying gender differences in the meaning of roles among individuals who have the same multiple role configuration, and suggesting how these differences can help explain sex differences in well-being, this research may expand existing theories about the mental health consequences of multiple role involvements.

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