Linking Prenatal Androgens to Gender-Related Attitudes, Identity, and Activities: Evidence From Girls With Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
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Key questions for developmentalists concern the origins of gender attitudes and their implications for behavior. We examined whether prenatal androgen exposure was related to gender attitudes, and whether and how the links between attitudes and gendered activity interest and participation were mediated by gender identity and moderated by hormones. Gender attitudes (i.e., gender-role attitudes and attitudes about being a girl), gender identity, and gender-typed activities were reported by 54 girls aged 10–13 years varying in degree of prenatal androgen exposure, including 40 girls with classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia (C-CAH) exposed to high prenatal androgens and 14 girls with non-classical (NC) CAH exposed to low, female-typical, prenatal androgens. Both girls with C-CAH and NC-CAH reported positive attitudes about being a girl and egalitarian gender attitudes, consistent with their female-typical gender identity. In contrast, girls with C-CAH had more male-typed activity interest and participation than girls with NC-CAH. Gender attitudes were linked to activities in both groups, with gender identity mediating the links. Specifically, gender-role attitudes and positive attitudes about being a girl were associated with feminine gender identity, which in turn was associated with decreased male-typed activity interests and participation, and increased female-typed activity interests. Our results are consistent with schema theories, with attitudes more closely associated with gender identity than with prenatal androgens.
KeywordsGender attitudes Gender identity Gender-typed activities Prenatal androgens Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, HD057930. Joyce J. Endendijk was supported by a grant from the Jo Kolk Studiefonds of the VVAO (Dutch Society for Women with Higher Education) and a grant from the Dutch journal Kind & Adolescent. We thank the participants; members of the CARES and MAGIC Foundations and pediatric endocrinologists for help in recruiting participants; Chun Bun Lam for assistance with data scoring and analysis; and Diana Crom and Rob Schofield for coordinating data collection and processing.
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