Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date

Summer 8-13-2021


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the routines of families all over the U.S. faced massive disruptions as schools and workplaces moved online. During this time, mothers faced the primary responsibility of keeping the household afloat and keeping track of their children’s education even as fathers worked remotely. As fathers return to the workplace, mothers are still staying behind, begging the question what forces are shaping mothers’ justifications of their presence at the home and their partners’ presences outside. Drawing upon 18 interviews, I examine two research questions: (1) How are mothers dealing with their husbands’ absences when performing childcare and domestic work? And (2) How have participants interpreted the impact on their careers and families resulting from COVID? The interviews revealed that mothers, shaped by the internal and external expectations of intensive mothering, justify the hegemonic masculinity of fatherhood by emphasizing the father’s place in breadwinning, minimal participation in domestic work, and frequent participation in activities outside the home. These findings reveal the internalization of gender roles by mothers who face frequent pressure of being a mother intensely involved with her children and wiling to sacrifice her wellbeing and career to do so.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Group Grant

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Mahala Stewart