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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Joya Misra

Second Advisor

Michelle Budig

Third Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Fourth Advisor

Aline Sayer

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification


Mothers have contributed disproportionately to women’s rising employment rates in the United States, and contemporary fathers spend more time caring for children compared to previous generations of men. Still, parenthood continues to shape women’s and men’s employment participation patterns in profoundly gendered ways. Changes and continuities in aggregate labor market participation patterns raise questions with regard to the variation in mothers’ and fathers’ employment participation, and in the ways in which different-sex couples organize engagement in paid work after they become parents. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this dissertation examine the variation in new parents’ long-term employment pathways during the preschool-years of the first child, using sequence analysis techniques and group-based trajectory modelling. Findings show that across cohorts, stably partnered, different-sex couples have become somewhat more similar in their engagement in paid work after becoming parents. However, considerable variation remains. I argue that fathers’ employment participation patterns are an important source of variation for the ways in which different-sex, two-parent families engage in paid work while children are young, and fathers’ very long work hours are linked to a more “specialized” division of labor in two-parent families.