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The Best Is Yet to Come? Attitudes Toward Gender Roles Among Adolescents in 36 Countries

Abstract

In the present article, we look at attitudes toward gender roles among young women and men in 36 countries with different levels of societal gender inequality. By applying multilevel models to data from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2009, the study contributes to our understanding of gender inequality by showing that (a) both young women and young men (in 8th grade; Mage = 14.39 years) display more gender-egalitarian attitudes in countries with higher levels of societal gender equality; (b) young women in all countries have more egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles than young men do, but (c) the gender gap in attitudes is more evident in more egalitarian contexts; and (d) a higher level of maternal education is associated with more gender-egalitarian attitudes among young women. In contrast, no statistically significant association emerges between maternal employment and young men’s attitudes. Overall, the findings suggest that adolescents in different contexts are influenced by the dominant societal discourse on gender inequality, which they interiorize and display through their own attitudes toward gender roles. However, the findings also indicate that young women are more responsive to external cues than young men are. This result, coupled with the fact that young men in egalitarian contexts have not adopted gender-egalitarian attitudes to the same extent as young women, is concerning because it suggests a slowdown in the achievement of societal gender equality that is still far from being reached.

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Correspondence to Giulia M. Dotti Sani.

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Dotti Sani, G.M., Quaranta, M. The Best Is Yet to Come? Attitudes Toward Gender Roles Among Adolescents in 36 Countries. Sex Roles 77, 30–45 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0698-7

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Gender equality
  • Attitudes toward gender roles
  • Parental education
  • International civic and citizenship education study