This article was published in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, v. 54 (2006), pp. 845-857 (DOI 10.1007/s11199-006-9052-9). The final publication is available at


Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality


Because of social constraint and personal preference, cutting back and dropping out of the workforce remain common responses to the problem of balancing work and motherhood. To understand whether this phenomenon will continue, adolescents from middle-class, dual-earner families (N = 194) were asked how much they expected that they (for girls) or their future partners (for boys) would work while raising children. Nearly all expected new mothers to quit their jobs or reduce their hours temporarily, which signifies either acceptance of, or ignorance of, the penalties of career interruption among girls with high occupational aspirations. Adolescents’ expectations were associated with their mothers’ employment histories and support for gender egalitarianism, as well as the level of challenge in the home environment.