Using data from a national probability sample of heterosexual U.S. adults (N = 2,281), the present study describes the distribution and correlates of men’s and women’s attitudes toward transgender people. Feeling thermometer ratings of transgender people were strongly correlated with attitudes toward gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, but were significantly less favorable. Attitudes toward transgender people were more negative among heterosexual men than women. Negative attitudes were associated with endorsement of a binary conception of gender; higher levels of psychological authoritarianism, political conservatism, and anti-egalitarianism, and (for women) religiosity; and lack of personal contact with sexual minorities. In regression analysis, sexual prejudice accounted for much of the variance in transgender attitudes, but respondent gender, educational level, authoritarianism, anti-egalitarianism, and (for women) religiosity remained significant predictors with sexual prejudice statistically controlled. Implications and directions for future research on attitudes toward transgender people are discussed.
Although there is a voluminous literature on mass media effects on body image concerns of young adult women in the U.S., there has been relatively little theoretically-driven research on processes and effects of social media on young women’s body image and self-perceptions. Yet given the heavy online presence of young adults, particularly women, and their reliance on social media, it is important to appreciate ways that social media can influence perceptions of body image and body image disturbance. Drawing on communication and social psychological theories, the present article articulates a series of ideas and a framework to guide research on social media effects on body image concerns of young adult women. The interactive format and content features of social media, such as the strong peer presence and exchange of a multitude of visual images, suggest that social media, working via negative social comparisons, transportation, and peer normative processes, can significantly influence body image concerns. A model is proposed that emphasizes the impact of predisposing individual vulnerability characteristics, social media uses, and mediating psychological processes on body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Research-based ideas about social media effects on male body image, intersections with ethnicity, and ameliorative strategies are also discussed.
The notion that social identities and social inequality based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sex/gender are intersectional rather than additive poses a variety of thorny methodological challenges. Using research with Black lesbians (Bowleg, manuscripts in preparation; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2008; Bowleg et al., Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology 10:229–240, 2004; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7:87–108, 2003) as a foundation, I examine how these challenges shape measurement, analysis, and interpretation. I argue that a key dilemma for intersectionality researchers is that the additive (e.g., Black + Lesbian + Woman) versus intersectional (e.g., Black Lesbian Woman) assumption inherent in measurement and qualitative and quantitative data analyses contradicts the central tenet of intersectionality: social identities and inequality are interdependent for groups such as Black lesbians, not mutually exclusive. In light of this, interpretation becomes one of the most substantial tools in the intersectionality researcher’s methodological toolbox.
Intersectionality, the mutually constitutive relations among social identities, is a central tenet of feminist thinking and has transformed how gender is conceptualized in research. In this special issue, we focus on the intersectionality perspective in empirical research on gender. Our goal is to offer a “best practices” resource that provides models for when and how intersectionality can inform theory and be incorporated into empirical research on psychological questions at individual, interpersonal, and social structural levels. I briefly summarize the development of the intersectionality perspective, and then review how the realization of its promise has been diverted by preoccupation with intersectionality as a methodological challenge. I conclude with a discussion of why intersectionality is an urgent issue for researchers invested in promoting positive social change.
Girls tend to have more negative math attitudes, including gender stereotypes, anxieties, and self-concepts, than boys. These attitudes play a critical role in math performance, math course-taking, and the pursuit of math-related career paths. We review existing research, primarily from U.S. samples, showing that parents’ and teachers’ expectancies for children’s math competence are often gender-biased and can influence children’s math attitudes and performance. We then propose three new directions for future research on the social transmission of gender-related math attitudes. First, parents’ and teachers’ own math anxieties and their beliefs about whether math ability is a stable trait may prove to be significant influences on children’s math attitudes. Second, a developmental perspective that investigates math attitudes at younger ages and in relation to other aspects of gender development, such as gender rigidity, may yield new insights into the development of math attitudes. Third, investigating the specific behaviors and mannerisms that form the causal links between parents’ and teachers’ beliefs and children’s math attitudes may lead to effective interventions to improve children’s math attitudes from a young age. Such work will not only further our understanding of the relations between attitudes and performance, but will lead to the development of practical interventions for the home and classroom that ensure that all students are provided with opportunities to excel in math.
The notion that social identities and social inequality based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sex/gender are intersectional rather than additive poses a variety of thorny methodological challenges. Using research with Black lesbians (Bowleg, manuscripts in preparation; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2008; Bowleg et al., Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology 10:229-240, 2004; Bowleg et al., Journal of Lesbian Studies, 7:87-108, 2003) as a foundation, I examine how these challenges shape measurement, analysis, and interpretation. I argue that a key dilemma for intersectionality researchers is that the additive (e.g., Black + Lesbian + Woman) versus intersectional (e.g., Black Lesbian Woman) assumption inherent in measurement and qualitative and quantitative data analyses contradicts the central tenet of intersectionality: social identities and inequality are interdependent for groups such as Black lesbians, not mutually exclusive. In light of this, interpretation becomes one of the most substantial tools in the intersectionality researcher's methodological toolbox.
Experiences of stigma, discrimination, and violence as well as extreme health disparities and high rates of sexual risk behavior and substance use have been well-documented among transgender women of color. Using an intersectional approach and integrating prominent theories from stigma, eating disorders, and HIV-related research, this article offers a new framework for conceptualizing risk behavior among transgender women of color, specifically sexual risk behavior and risky body modification practices. This framework is centered on the concept of ‘gender affirmation,’ the process by which individuals are affirmed in their gender identity through social interactions. Qualitative data from 22 interviews with transgender women of color from the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States are analyzed and discussed in the context of the gender affirmation framework.
Although there is a voluminous literature on mass media effects on body image concerns of young adult women in the U.S., there has been relatively little theoretically-driven research on processes and effects of social media on young women's body image and self-perceptions. Yet given the heavy online presence of young adults, particularly women, and their reliance on social media, it is important to appreciate ways that social media can influence perceptions of body image and body image disturbance. Drawing on communication and social psychological theories, the present article articulates a series of ideas and a framework to guide research on social media effects on body image concerns of young adult women. The interactive format and content features of social media, such as the strong peer presence and exchange of a multitude of visual images, suggest that social media, working via negative social comparisons, transportation, and peer normative processes, can significantly influence body image concerns. A model is proposed that emphasizes the impact of predisposing individual vulnerability characteristics, social media uses, and mediating psychological processes on body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Research-based ideas about social media effects on male body image, intersections with ethnicity, and ameliorative strategies are also discussed.
The body of recent American research indicates that women continue to perform the vast majority of household labor. Understanding the conditions under which couples can achieve an egalitarian division of household labor constitutes one of the first steps in attaining gender equity in the private and public spheres. This article discusses the state of research on the division of household labor published between 2000 and 2009. After a discussion of conceptualization and methodological issues, we review empirical findings that support or challenge the micro- and macro-level perspectives (focusing on individual characteristics and national contexts, respectively) that have been proposed to explain the gendered allocation of labor. We then review studies focusing on the interplay between these two prominent perspectives.
Although Black gay and bisexual men have written eloquently about the intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity in anthologies such as Brother to Brother and In the Life, empirical studies of intersectionality with men, and Black gay and bisexual men in particular are rare. This qualitative study examined descriptions and experiences of intersectionality in individual interviews with 12 U.S. Black self-identified gay (n=9) and bisexual (n=3) men in Washington, DC. Participants ranged in age from 21 and 44 (M=36.33) and were predominantly highly educated and middle income. Research questions were: (1) How do participants describe and experience intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity?; (2) How do social processes shape their social identities?; (3) What are their challenges due to intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity?; and (4) What are the perceived benefits of these intersections? Analyses highlighted four key themes: (1) explicit and implicit descriptions of intersectionality; (2) the primacy of identities as Black and/or Black men first; (3) challenges such as negative stereotypes, racial microaggressions in mainstream and White LGB communities, heterosexism in Black communities, and gender role pressures to act "masculine"; and (4) perceived benefits such as psychological growth, liberation from traditional gender role or heteronormative expectations, and the freedom that being outsiders or "never being comfortable" confers in terms of exploring new opportunities and experiences. These findings imply that intersectionality can be expanded to incorporate the strengths/assets of intersectional identities in addition to oppression based on interlocking social identities.
The hypothesis that possessing multiple subordinate-group identities renders a person “invisible” relative to those with a single subordinate-group identity is developed. We propose that androcentric, ethnocentric, and heterocentric ideologies will cause people who have multiple subordinate-group identities to be defined as non-prototypical members of their respective identity groups. Because people with multiple subordinate-group identities (e.g., ethnic minority woman) do not fit the prototypes of their respective identity groups (e.g., ethnic minorities, women), they will experience what we have termed “intersectional invisibility.” In this article, our model of intersectional invisibility is developed and evidence from historical narratives, cultural representations, interest-group politics, and anti-discrimination legal frameworks is used to illustrate its utility. Implications for social psychological theory and research are discussed.
While past research has certainly investigated a variety of correlates of U.S. attitudes toward lesbians, gays, bisexual men, bisexual women, male-to-female (MtF) and female-to-male (FtM) transgender (LGBT) individuals, there are no U.S. quantitative studies that could be located that examined attitudes toward each of these groups separately. This is especially important because efforts to combat prejudices are likely to be most successful if they are based in research that explores how attitudes are both similar and different across specified targets of prejudice. Toward that goal, this essay underscores the significance of examining U.S. attitudes toward LGBT individuals as separate constructs. Both the gender and sexual orientation of the target of prejudice and the gender and sexual orientation of the respondent are highlighted as important constructs that should be considered when investigating U.S. attitudes toward LGBT individuals. First, I review previous U.S. studies that have examined attitudes toward LGBT individuals. Second, I offer arguments for how the intersections of gender and sexual orientation may affect attitudes toward LGBT individuals. Third, I discuss future considerations in studies of attitudes toward LGBT individuals in the context of multiple intersectionalities. I suggest that U.S. initiatives to reduce sexual stigma, gender nonconformity stigma, and transgender stigma should be grounded in research that highlights prejudicial attitudes as they vary by the target of prejudice and the respondents’ characteristics.
This qualitative study explored the resilience of 13 transgender youth of color in the southeastern region of the U.S. The definition of resilience framing this study was a participant’s ability to “bounce back” from challenging experiences as transgender youth of color. Using a phenomenological research tradition and a feminist, intersectionality (intercategorical) theoretical framework, the research question guiding the study was: “What are the daily lived experiences of resilience transgender youth of color describe as they negotiate intersections of transprejudice and racism?” The researchers’ individuated findings included five major domains of the essence of participants’ daily lived experiences of resilience despite experiencing racism and transprejudice: (1) evolving, simultaneous self-definition of racial/ethnic and gender identities, (2) being aware of adultism experiences, (3) self-advocacy in educational systems, (4) finding one’s place in the LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning) youth community, and (5) use of social media to affirm one’s identities as a transgender youth of color. Implications for practice, research, and advocacy, in addition to the study’s limitations are discussed.
The Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI) is one of Sandra Bem's most notable contributions to feminist psychology, measuring an individual's identification with traditionally masculine and feminine qualities. In a cross-temporal meta-analysis of U.S. college students' scores on the BSRI (34 samples, N = 8,027), we examined changes in ratings on the Bem masculinity (M) and femininity (F) scales since the early 1990s. Additional analyses used data collected in a previous meta-analysis (Twenge 1997) to document changes since the BSRI's inception in 1974. Our results reveal that women's femininity scores have decreased significantly (d = -.26) between 1993 and 2012, whereas their masculinity remained stable. No significant changes were observed for men. Expanded analyses of data from 1974 to 2012 (94 samples, N = 24,801) found that women's M rose significantly (d = .23), with no changes in women's F, men's M, and men's F. Women's androgyny scores showed a significant increase since 1974, but not since 1993. Men's androgyny remained the same in both time periods. Our findings suggest that since the 1990s, U.S. college women have become less likely to endorse feminine traits as self-representative, potentially revealing a devaluation of traditional femininity. However, it is also possible that the scale items do not match modern gender stereotypes. Future research may need to update the BSRI to reflect current conceptions of gender.
Rape myths, which are present at both the individual and institutional/societal levels, are one way in which sexual violence has been sustained and justified throughout history. In light of an increasing accumulation of rape myth research across a variety of disciplines, this paper proposes to use a feminist lens to provide an overview of the historical origins of rape myths, to document the current manifestations of these myths in American society, and to summarize the current body of research literature. We focus on the history of several specific rape myths (i.e., “husbands cannot rape their wives,” “women enjoy rape,” “women ask to be raped,” and “women lie about being raped”) and how these particular myths permeate current legal, religious, and media institutions (despite their falsehood). The paper concludes with suggestions for further research and describes how existing evidence could be used to aid in eradicating rape myths at both the individual and institutional levels.
Young women’s sexuality traditionally has been marked along a gendered moralist continuum of sexual activity, ranging from virtuous (virgins) to licentious (sluts). However, this one-dimensional model cannot easily accommodate substantive changes in the norms that influence girls’ sexualities. Contemporary scholarship generated across the Anglophone West includes many signs that such a shift has occurred, ushered in by the cultural and ideological suffusion of neoliberalism. I enlist interdisciplinary and international evidence of neoliberalism’s influence on constructions of girls’ sexuality to argue that in the U.S., girls are now judged on their adherence not only to gendered moralist norms, but also to a neoliberal script of sexual agency. In addition to reviewing conceptual and empirical grounds for this claim, I consider the multidimensional normative field created by the intersection of this Agency Line with the long-standing Virgin-Slut Continuum. The primacy of agency within neoliberal discourse seems to legitimize women’s sexual autonomy and its subjective nature may permit them some control over their position above the Agency Line. But upon critical inspection it becomes clear that young women remain confined to a prescribed normative space that divides them from one another, compels self-blame, and predicates their worth on cultural appraisals of their sexuality.
Women are assumed to show a self-ascribed lack-of-fit to leadership positions compared to men (Heilman Research in Organizational Behavior 5:269–298, 1983). The present study examined whether this gender difference would diminish when agency is accounted for and whether a stimulus person’s gender would alter women’s self-ascribed fit. German management students (91 women, 95 men) received a fictitious recruitment advertisement for a leadership position that portrayed a man, a woman, or both a man and a woman. Participants indicated their perceptions of agency and suitability to the advertised position. As predicted, women judged themselves as less suitable for the leadership position than men and participants’ self-reported agency mediated this effect. Furthermore, all participants felt most suitable if a male and a female stimulus person were portrayed.
Although research and scholarship on weight-based stigma have increased substantially in recent years, the disproportionate degree of bias experienced by fat women has received considerably less attention. This paper reviews the literature on the weight-based stigma experienced by women in North America in multiple domains, including employment, education settings, romantic relationships, health care and mental health treatment, and portrayals in the media. We also explore the research examining the intersection of gender and ethnicity related to weight stigma. Across numerous settings, fat women fare worse than thinner women and worse than men, whether the men are fat or thin. Women experience multiple deleterious outcomes as a result of weight bias that have a significant impact on health, quality of life, and socioeconomic outcomes. Because of this gender disparity, we argue that feminist scholars need to devote as much attention to the lived experiences of fat women as they have to the “fear of fat” experienced by thin women.
In the present manuscript we draw on the Multi-Threat Framework to explore gender-related math attitudes and how they put girls and women at risk for stereotype threats. Gunderson et al. (2011) detail how negative stereotypes about women's math abilities are transmitted to girls by their parents and teachers, shaping girls' math attitudes and ultimately undermining performance and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The social psychological phenomenon of stereotype threat complements this approach and demonstrates the additional ways in which gender-related math attitudes undermine girls' and women's interest and performance in STEM domains. Considering the phenomenon of stereotype threat also identifies how stereotypes and other gender-related math attitudes can undermine women's and girls' interest and performance in STEM domains even when women and girls have positive math attitudes.
The present research examines undergraduates’ stereotypes of the people in computer science, and whether changing these stereotypes using the media can influence women’s interest in computer science. In Study 1, college students at two U.S. West Coast universities (N = 293) provided descriptions of computer science majors. Coding these descriptions revealed that computer scientists were perceived as having traits that are incompatible with the female gender role, such as lacking interpersonal skills and being singularly focused on computers. In Study 2, college students at two U.S. West Coast universities (N = 54) read fabricated newspaper articles about computer scientists that either described them as fitting the current stereotypes or no longer fitting these stereotypes. Women who read that computer scientists no longer fit the stereotypes expressed more interest in computer science than those who read that computer scientists fit the stereotypes. In contrast, men’s interest in computer science did not differ across articles. Taken together, these studies suggest that stereotypes of academic fields influence who chooses to participate in these fields, and that recruiting efforts to draw more women into computer science would benefit from media efforts that alter how computer scientists are depicted.