, Volume 47, Issue 5-6, pp 259-271

Desirability of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory Items for Women and Men: A Comparison Between African Americans and European Americans

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The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) is a widely used instrument for measuring gender role perceptions, but questions have been raised regarding whether its items reflect contemporary views on gender. A recent study (Holt & Ellis, 1998) revalidated all but 2 of the 40 adjectives included in the masculine and feminine BSRI indices for a predominantly European American undergraduate sample in a rural Southern town. We examined whether European Americans in a different geographical area and 2 samples of African Americans would show similar findings. Study participants were recruited in undergraduate management courses in 2 universities and included 62 European American women, 69 European American men, 40 African American women, and 31 African American men in a large Northeastern city and 56 African American women and 33 African American men in a small Southern city. Findings indicated that European American men in the urban Northeast and African American men in the South gave the most traditional ratings, whereas European American women in the urban Northeast expressed the most liberal views. European American women considered only 4 of the 40 BSRI items to be differentially desirable for women and men, a considerable departure from the findings of Holt and Ellis (1998) as well as Bem (1974).