Gender Segregation and Gender-Typing in Adolescence

Abstract

We investigated correlates of gender segregation among adolescent (15–17 yrs) boys (N = 60) and girls (N = 85) from the Mid-Atlantic United States. Seventy-two percent of peers nominated for “hanging out” were the same gender as the adolescent. Girls’ gender segregation was correlated with gender reference-group identity and believing girls are more responsive communicative partners than boys. Girls were more likely to endorse feminine, expressive traits, a cooperative activity orientation, and to believe in the greater communicative responsiveness of same- vs. other-gender peers. Boys and girls were equally likely to endorse masculine, instrumental traits, competitive activity orientations, and to identify same-gender others as a reference group. We consider implications of the developmental persistence of gender segregation for gender-typing.

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Acknowledgments

Clare M. Mehta and JoNell Strough, Department of Psychology, West Virginia University.

Clare M. Mehta is now at Division for Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

This research was supported by a graduate student research grant from the West Virginia University Department of Psychology Alumni Fund, and by the Velma Miller Award, a graduate student research grant from West Virginia University Department of Women’s Studies.

The authors thank Katherine Karraker and Kevin Larkin for their contributions as members of the master’s thesis committee on which this article is based, Brian Ayotte, Emily Keener, Ashley Kendall, and Lydia Shrier for their comments on prior versions of this article, and Erin Groves & Kristin Nicewarner for their assistance in conducting the study.

This article is based on a master’s thesis conducted by Clare Mehta under the supervision of JoNell Strough and submitted to the Department of Psychology at West Virginia University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master of science degree in life-span developmental psychology. An earlier version of this article was presented at the meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Pittsburgh, PA, 2009.

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Appendix

Appendix

Measures and Items

  Items
Gender reference-group identity Usually I identify with [females]/[males] more than with [males]/[females]
I think of myself as having more in common with [females]/[males] than [males]/[females]
Children’s Sex Role Inventory (see Boldizar 1991 for full measure) Example feminine item: I am a kind and caring person
Example masculine item: I am willing to take risks
Example neutral item: I am an honest person.
Beliefs about the greater communicative responsiveness of same- v. other-gender peers I would rather talk to [females]/[males] than [males]/[females] because [females]/[males] are better listeners
I would rather talk to [females]/[males] than [males]/[females] because they understand me better.
I would rather talk to [females]/[males] than [males]/[females] because [females]/[males] listen to what I have to say.
I would rather talk to [females]/[males] than [males]/[females] because [females]/[males] see my point of view.
Competitive activity orientation I like to compete against others.
I prefer to compete against others.
I often compete against others.
Cooperative activity orientation I like to cooperate with others.
I prefer to cooperate with others.
I often cooperate with others

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Mehta, C.M., Strough, J. Gender Segregation and Gender-Typing in Adolescence. Sex Roles 63, 251–263 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9780-8

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Keywords

  • Gender segregation
  • Gender-typing
  • Adolescence
  • Peer relationships
  • Friendships