PhD Why boys don't care about caring?

PhD Why boys don't care about caring?

Published Deadline Location
29 Jan 25 Feb Utrecht

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Always wondered why few boys and men are interested in healthcare or elementary education and are less involved in the domestic sphere? Join our PhD-project!

Job description

Why boys don't care about caring? Gender differences in the socialisation of care roles by parents and peers are researched in this interdisciplinary PhD project!

Your job
Despite important progress toward greater gender equality, men are still clearly underrepresented in care roles in health care, elementary education, and the domestic sphere (HEED). This contributes to many vacant HEED jobs and valuable HEED talents unused. Roots of gender inequality in care roles are already visible in middle childhood (i.e., ages 6 to 8), with boys desiring to become a police officer or fire fighter, and girls desiring to be a teacher, nurse, or mother. Also in middle childhood, boys start seeing themselves as less communal (e.g., caring, warm, nurturing) and more agentic (e.g., independent, assertive, dominant) than girls do. Middle childhood is further characterised by the development of stereotypical expectations about the attributes of men and women, and a more complex sense of self as male or female (i.e., gender identity). Such gender beliefs are known to play an integral role in the career choices people make and the gender roles they enact later in life.

The aim of this PhD project is to identify the developmental processes that underlie men’s underrepresentation in HEED. We focus on the critical self-concept formation period of middle childhood (ages 6-8) within the family and school setting as major agents in the socialisation of gender roles. We use a mixed-methods three-wave longitudinal design to capture developments in gender beliefs and career aspirations. Our first aim is to examine how a consistent network of gender beliefs about communion and agency develops during middle childhood, and relates to children’s career aspirations. Second, we will examine how gender socialisation practices in the family and peer context contribute to the development of children’s gender beliefs and career aspirations. Specifically, based on social learning theories we will investigate if children who are exposed to less traditional parental gender role models (in terms of occupation, work hours, or task division) would develop less traditional gender beliefs and career aspirations. We will also test possible disadvantages of parents who reverse traditional gender roles (25-30% of Dutch couples) for children’s gender development. Regarding peers, we will investigate whether children who interact more with other-gender peers (and less with same-gender peers) would develop less traditional gender beliefs and career aspirations, via processes such as learning about the other gender and expanding their behavioral repertoire.

In this PhD project, we will collect mixed-methods data with yearly assessments at age 6, 7, and 8 years to capture developments in gender beliefs during middle childhood. We will include 150 Dutch families. Families are sampled via different channels (e.g., social media, schools, child-care centers, parenting websites, societal partners) to recruit a diverse sample in terms of background variables (e.g., family composition, education, rural/urban living area, ethnicity, religion) and gender roles.


Utrecht University


We are looking for someone who:
  • holds (or nearly holds) a (Research) Master’s degree in pedagogical sciences, developmental psychology, social psychology or a related field;
  • has experience and affinity with quantitative research methods (e.g. longitudinal surveys, experimental tasks, behavioral observation) and statistical analysis of longitudinal data (e.g., SPSS, MPlus, R);
  • has experience and/or affinity with programming questionnaire surveys (e.g. in Qualtrics) and experimental tasks (e.g., implicit association tests);
  • already has some (scientific) knowledge in the field of gender inequality and socialisation;
  • has good social skills;
  • is effective and efficient, and able to think conceptually;
  • is able to meet deadlines, and conduct research independently and as part of a team;
  • good communication skills (written and oral) in English and Dutch. You need to be fluent enough in Dutch to carry out and supervise data-collection with Dutch children and parents.

Conditions of employment

  • an interdisciplinary environment in which you can learn a lot about gender inequality and socialisation, from both a developmental and social psychological perspective;
  • embedding in a international network of interdisciplinary scholars studying the underrepresentation of men in care;
  • an opportunity to work in a small team of researchers with short communication lines and a collegial working atmosphere;
  • opportunities to further develop your research, teaching, and professional skills;
  • a position for one year, with an extension to four or five years (depending on scope of employment), upon successful assessment;
  • a working week of 32 to 40 hours and a full-time gross salary between €2.770,- and €3.539,- in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (CAO).

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Shaping science, sharing tomorrow.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Almost 7,000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 1,100 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues. The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park near the historical city centre of Utrecht.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3555



Heidelberglaan 1, 3584CS, Utrecht

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