Childcare policies have become an important element of social investment reforms, but in most countries access to childcare has remained socially unequal. Some studies have suggested that a trend towards more gender egalitarian work–family attitudes has facilitated the expansion of childcare provision. Yet, we know little about the repercussions of an unequal expansion of childcare provision on public attitudes towards the work–family nexus. Building on multilevel models of 18 European countries and two waves of the International Social Survey Programme, this analysis examines the effects of an unequal childcare expansion on attitudes towards maternal employment. The results reveal that individuals with lower income remain more skeptical of maternal employment when childcare provision is highly unequal. The unequally distributed benefits of an expansion of childcare provision contribute to a divergence of attitudes across socio-economic groups, which might create a more difficult political terrain for the implementation of expansive social investment reforms.