Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology
1 online resource (vii, 135 pages)
Women -- Attitudes, Sex role -- Study and teaching (Higher), Masculinity -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Individuals are involved in an ongoing construction of gender ideology from two opposite but intertwined directions: they experience pressure to follow gender role norms, and they also participate in the social construction of these norms. An individual's appraisal, positive or negative, of gender roles is called a "gender role attitude." These lie on a continuum from traditional to progressive. Traditional gender role attitudes have been linked to primarily negative outcomes.
This thesis examines attitudes toward--and beliefs about--male gender in women completing an elective course on the psychology of men and masculinities. Study 1 assessed how these students' (N = 32) narrative definitions of "man" and "masculinity" changed from the beginning to the end of the class. While there was a significant decrease in the presence of the male role norms of achievement/status and aggression over time, there were no differences in the number of references to men's avoidance of femininity, homophobia, non-relational attitudes toward sex, restrictive emotionality, or self-reliance. Because the coding scheme only measured presence of these male role norms rather than framing or valence, additional characteristics of students' responses are discussed. Study 1 also compared women's (N = 20) pre- and post-class male role norm attitudes. Endorsement of global male role norms, aggression, self-reliance, and a composite of particular other male role norms (i.e., "Factor 1" of the Male Role Norms Inventory) were all significantly lower at the end of the class than at the beginning.
Study 2 examined potential selection effects in the male role attitudes of women choosing to complete the psychology of men and masculinities course (n = 20) by comparing them to those of women in a psychology research methods course required for the academic major (n = 19). It was determined that pre-class male role attitudes did not differ significantly between the two classes. However, small sample sizes severely limited the statistical power to detect such a difference, and other possible explanations for the lack of difference are considered.
Study 3 explored the relationship between women's gender role stress (GRS), which describes stress from coping with restrictive feminine expectations, and attitudes toward male gender roles (N = 32). Results showed that women's GRS did not significantly correlate with overall male role attitudes or with specific subcomponents of these role norms (i.e., self-reliance, aggression, and Factor 1). Thus, there was no evidence that gender role pressures experienced by women relate to their gender expectations for men.
While many studies have examined change in attitudes toward women's gender roles, particularly in the context of women's and gender studies courses, there is a lack of research on women's attitudes toward men's roles and the impact on those attitudes of gender coursework focused on masculinity. This research is the first to provide evidence regarding: 1) changes in women's attitudes toward male role norms, and 2) changes in gender role attitudes among students taking a course on the psychology of men and masculinities. Because both men's and women's attitudes toward male role norms are linked to a number of measures of well-being, this research suggests gender-focused education as a potential strategy for improving students' health and relationship quality.
Kidder, Sylvia Marie Ferguson, "Impact of a Psychology of Masculinities Course on Women's Attitudes toward Male Gender Roles" (2015). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2210.