Amira Allen

Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Krista Lynn Minnotte


In 2015, 61.4 percent of women and 94.5 percent of men with children three and under were in the labor force. Both working mothers and fathers report higher levels of stress balancing work and family life than they did twenty-five years ago, and many mothers and fathers would like to cut back on their work hours. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees of covered employers the option to take unpaid job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, such as parental leave. Though FMLA applies to both parents, it is more common for maternity leave to occur than paternity leave. The FMLA is unpaid, and only applies to an estimated 59 percent of the labor force. Given that most other countries have more generous parental leave policies, this thesis will examine factors that are related to support for establishing paid parental leave in the United States. Guided by social role theory and using data from the 2012 General Social Survey (N = 1,101), this thesis considers how parenthood, gender, and gender ideology are related to support of paid parental leave, while also taking into consideration control variables, including marital status, education, race, employment status, and age. The findings show that 84 percent of the sample support paid parental leave, women are more supportive of paid parental leave than men, and individuals that have an egalitarian gender ideology are more supportive of paid parental leave than individuals that have a traditional gender ideology. Results also indicate that parenthood is not significantly related to support for paid parental leave. Implications, limitations, and areas for potential research are discussed.