Sex Roles

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 108–118

Exploring Parent-Adolescent Communication About Gender: Results from Adolescent and Emerging Adult Samples

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11199-011-9975-7

Cite this article as:
Epstein, M. & Ward, L.M. Sex Roles (2011) 65: 108. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-9975-7


Although parents are assumed to be children’s primary models of socialization when it comes to gender, little is known about direct communication of gendered values in the family. Accordingly, this study assessed the amount and content of recalled parental gender socialization messages using data from 291 U.S. college undergraduates attending a large Midwestern university and 259 U.S. adolescents enrolled in public high schools in the Midwest. The study examined the amount and content of parental communications of five gendered discourses and then tested for connections to current gender beliefs. Findings indicate that gender socialization may be quite similar for sons and daughters, with some evidence of gender typing in patterns of communication. No significant age differences emerged in the patterns of socialization, although high school students reported receiving greater amounts of communication than college students on two of the five discourses. In general, receiving messages promoting traditional gender roles was associated with more traditional gender beliefs (and vice versa), although interpretation of some messages appeared to vary by gender.


Gender socializationParental communicationGender rolesSex rolesAdolescenceEmerging adulthoodGender beliefsAdolescent development

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA