Sex Roles

, Volume 73, Issue 11–12, pp 490–496 | Cite as

Gender in Context: Considering Variability in Wood and Eagly’s Traditions of Gender Identity

  • Clare M. Mehta
Feminist Forum Commentary


This paper was written in response to Wood and Eagly’s (2015) feminist forum paper that proposes two traditions for gender identity research, a tradition based on gender-typed attributes and a tradition based on gender self-conceptualization. The present paper expands on Wood and Eagly’s (2015) framework by proposing, in line with social constructivist models, that both traditions of gender identity may be variable and context dependent. Specifically, the present paper reviews research conducted in the U.S.A. that suggests that gender-typed attributes and components of gender self-conceptualization may change based on contextual factors such as the gender of people in a person’s immediate context and the salience of gender in a given situation. The paper also reviews ways in which variation in gender-typed attributes and components of gender self-conceptualization has been measured previously, and suggests the use of experience sampling methodology for future research. Finally, the paper encourages researchers to consider Wood and Eagly’s (2015) suggestion of using the principle of compatibility when selecting trait or state measures of gender identity, and proposes that beliefs in gender essentialism (that gender differences are due to innate traits) may be reduced by understanding how contextual factors influence gender identity.


Gender identity Social constructionism Context Gender-typed traits Femininity Masculinity 



The author would like to thank Yulia Dementieva for creating the figures presented in this manuscript.

Ethics Statement

IRB approval was granted for unpublished data presented in this paper. This unpublished data was collected in accordance with APA ethical guidelines.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmanuel College, Boston Children’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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