Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Second Advisor

Cliff Brown

Third Advisor

Heather Turner


In the absence of a national universal paid parental leave policy, access to parental leave is stratified in the United States. While several states have implemented paid family leave policies, workers typically rely on their employers to provide such a benefit. Previous qualitative research demonstrates that the share of women in labor unions may influence the provision offamily-friendly benefits. I utilize two nationally-representative datasets—the 2017-18 American Time Use Survey and the 2013-2017 American Community Survey—to analyze the relationship between union membership, occupational gender composition, and their interaction on access to paid and unpaid parental leave. Using weighted logistic regressions, I find a significant and positive interaction between union membership and the share of women in an occupation on access to both paid and unpaid parental leave. Unionized workers in female-dominated occupations are the most likely to have access to parental leave, while unionized workers in male-dominated occupations are the least likely to have access. My results indicate that unions are gendered institutions that may implicitly reinforce gendered norms of childcare and caregiving through the differential provision of parental leave benefits.