Gender Norm Salience Across Middle Schools: Contextual Variations in Associations Between Gender Typicality and Socioemotional Distress
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Youth who feel they do not fit with gender norms frequently experience peer victimization and socioemotional distress. To gauge differences between schools, the current study examined the longitudinal effects of school-level gender norm salience—a within-school association between gender typicality and peer victimization—on socioemotional distress across 26 ethnically diverse middle schools (n boys = 2607; n girls = 2805). Boys (but not girls) reporting lower gender typicality experienced more loneliness and social anxiety in schools with more salient gender norms, even when accounting for both individual and school level victimization. Greater gender norm salience also predicted increased depressed mood among boys regardless of gender typicality. These findings suggest particular sensitivity among boys to environments in which low gender typicality is sanctioned.
KeywordsGender typicality Gender norms Socioemotional distress Early adolescence
The authors would like to thank Dr. Sandra Graham (PI) and Leah Lessard for their feedback on the manuscript. We would also like to thank the members of the UCLA Middle School Diversity team for their contributions to collection of the data, and all school personnel and participants for their cooperation.
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (Grant 1R01HD059882-01A2) and the National Science Foundation (No. 0921306). The first author (DS) received additional support from the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Program and Edwin W. Pauley Fellowship, the second author (HS) from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships under Grant No. DGE-1144087, and the third author (CE) from the Institute of Educational Sciences Award (R305D150056).
D.S. participated in designing the study, performed and interpreted statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; H.S. participated in performing and interpreting statistical analyses, and helped draft the manuscript; C.E. provided statistical consultation and assisted in interpretation and presentation of analyses, and provided feedback on the manuscript; J.J. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
The study and all procedures were approved by the University of California, Los Angeles Institutional Review Board and by participating school districts.
As participants in this study were minors, a parent or legal guardian provided written informed consent. In addition, participating youth provided written informed assent.
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