Sex Roles

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 135–148 | Cite as

Stereotypes of woman: A single category?

  • A. Kay Clifton
  • Diane McGrath
  • Bonnie Wick
Articles

Abstract

The literature on prejudice toward women is reviewed and placed within an attitude-theory conceptualization. Research evidence is presented which questions the assumption of high consensuality about a single category of stereotypes of women. Unexpected results from exploratory research, intended to supplement adjective choices for the replication of traditional research on stereotypes of women, led to a reformulation of the study of stereotypes. Rather than eliciting adjectives descriptive of woman, the researchers elicited adjectives descriptive of five categories of women: housewife, bunny, clubwoman, career woman and woman athlete. Previous family theory, as well as pretesting among college students and adults in a middle-class neighborhood, generated the five categories. Undergraduate students (N=190) were then asked to separately select adjectives descriptive of each of the five categories of women; adjectives were considered stereotypical if more than 50% of the respondents check them. The results were used to question the assumption of a single category; no adjective was attributed to all five categories by both men and women. There is strong evidence for distinctive stereotypes of housewife and bunny, and, furthermore, these two traditional role alternatives for women are not perceived as complementary by the majority of respondents. A third stereotyped image of woman, a masculinized stereotype, included women's role alternatives that maintain relative independence from men.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Kay Clifton
    • 1
  • Diane McGrath
    • 1
  • Bonnie Wick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology-Anthropology, College of Arts and SciencesIllinois State UniversityBloomington-Normal

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