Sex Roles

, Volume 56, Issue 7–8, pp 439–448 | Cite as

Where Have All the Tomboys Gone? Women’s Accounts of Gender in Adolescence

  • C Lynn CarrEmail author
Original Article


This study was designed to investigate accounts of tomboyism cessation and continuation in adolescence in the narratives of a small sample of adult, working and lower-middle class, New Jersey-area lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women who identified as childhood tomboys. Study participants discussed several reasons for ceasing and continuing tomboyism in adolescence, including maturation, heterosexual interests, parental and peer pressures, athletic participation, and sexual desires for girls or women. Several participants questioned the tomboy label by highlighting discrepancies between behavior and identification. Women’s relationships to the varied gendered meanings referenced in the “tomboy” label, the salience of women’s adult sexualities in their narratives of gender in adolescence, and the dangers for scholars of presuming conformity and heterosexuality are discussed.


Tomboyism Retrospective narratives Gender in adolescence Sexuality 



I thank Judith Gerson, Ira Cohen, and Sarah Rosenfield for comments on initial drafts. I originally collected interview data used in this study for a doctoral dissertation, supported in part by grants from Rutgers University Graduate School and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologySeton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA

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