Gender Conformity, Perceptions of Shared Power, and Marital Quality in Same- and Different-Sex Marriages

Amanda M. Pollitt, Brandon A. Robinson, Debra Umberson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Research on gender inequality within different-sex marriages shows that women do more unpaid labor than men, and that the perception of inequality influences perceptions of marital quality. Yet research on same-sex couples suggests the importance of considering how gender is relational. Past studies show that same-sex partners share unpaid labor more equally and perceive greater equity than do different-sex partners, and that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are less gender conforming than heterosexuals. However, studies have not considered how gender conformity might shape inequalities and marital quality within same- and different-sex unions. In this study, we analyze dyadic data from both spouses in same- and different-sex marriages to explore how sex of spouse and gender conformity influence perceptions of shared power within the relationship, which, in turn, influences marital quality. Results show that greater gender conformity is related to stronger perceptions of shared power in different-sex and male same-sex couples but not in female same-sex couples. Perceptions of shared power are positively associated with marital quality in all union types. Our findings suggest that maintaining hegemonic masculinity and power inequalities may be salient to marriages with men. In female same-sex couples, gender and its relation to power inequalities may carry less meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
JournalGender and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • different-sex couples
  • gender conformity
  • marriage
  • power
  • same-sex couples

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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