Prior research has shown that the availability of paid maternity leave for new mothers can influence a variety of factors such as women’s mental health and life satisfaction, long term career outcomes, and children’s long run outcomes. However, scholars have suggested that there is a backlash effect among certain groups of people when particularly strong advancements are made in areas of women’s rights. Research also suggests that attitudes towards certain behavior are impacted by legislation that attempts to regulate such behavior. The current research assessed whether the implementation of paid maternity leave impacted attitudes towards women in the workforce.
This study evaluated whether the implementation of paid maternity leave legislation in California as well as variance due to age, educate, sex, race, etc. impacted attitudes towards working mothers. The data used are from the General Social Survey which provides over 17,000 observations from 1998 to 2004. The results of this study indicated that there was significant backlash among a variety of subgroups of men after paid maternity leave was implemented in California, consistent with prior research that suggests an antifeminist backlash effect. This study therefore provides insight into the relevance of what backlash might exist in terms of paid maternity leave legislation as well as further women’s rights legislation moving forward.