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How do Mothers and Fathers talk about parenting to different audiences?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-11, 10:21 authored by Melody Sepahpour FardMelody Sepahpour Fard, MICHAEL QUAYLEMICHAEL QUAYLE

While major strides have been made towards gender equality in public life, serious inequality remains in the domestic sphere, especially around parenting. The present study analyses discussions about parenting on Reddit (i.e., a content aggregation website) to explore audience effects and gender stereotypes. It suggests a novel method to study topical variation in individuals’ language when interacting with different audiences. Comments posted in 2020 were collected from three parenting subreddits (i.e., topical communities), described as being for fathers (r/Daddit), mothers (r/Mommit), and all parents (r/Parenting). Users posting on r/Parenting and r/Daddit or on r/Parenting and r/Mommit were assumed to identify as fathers or mothers, respectively, allowing gender comparison. Users’ comments on r/Parenting (to a mixed-gender audience) were compared with their comments to single-gender audiences on r/Daddit or r/Mommit using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic modelling. Results show that the most discussed topic among parents is about education and family advice, a topic mainly discussed in the mixed-gender subreddit and more by fathers than mothers. The topic model also indicates that, when it comes to the basic needs of children (sleep, food, and medical care), mothers seem to be more concerned regardless of the audience. In contrast, topics such as birth and pregnancy announcements and physical appearance are more discussed by fathers in the father-centric subreddit. Overall, findings seem to show that mothers are generally more concerned about the practical sides of parenting while fathers’ expressed concerns are more contextual: with other fathers, there seems to be a desire to show their fatherhood and be recognized for it while they discuss education with mothers. These results demonstrate  that concerns expressed by parents on Reddit are context-sensitive but also consistent with gender stereotypes, potentially reflecting a persistent gendered and unequal division of labour in parenting. 

Funding

SFI Centre for Research Training in Foundations of Data Science

Science Foundation Ireland

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A High School Course Integrating Statistics and Computer Programming

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

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History

Publication

WWW '22: Proceedings of the ACM Web Conference pp. 2696-2706

Publisher

ACM

Department or School

  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Psychology

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