A few good women

Kevin Lewis

December 18, 2012

Intergenerational links in female labor force participation

Melinda Sandler Morrill & Thayer Morrill
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Fernandez, Fogli, and Olivetti (2004) introduce an innovative model of how the experiences of one generation of women affect the behavior of the next generation of women via their sons/husbands. Empirically they find that a woman is more likely to work if her mother-in-law worked than if her own mother worked. We confirm this intriguing result but demonstrate that there is also a link between the labor force participation choices of mothers and daughters. Further, in an alternative theoretical model we show that the relationship between the labor force participation of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law may be due instead to a woman's own preferences formed before selecting a spouse. Interestingly, the model demonstrates that the correlation in labor force status may be stronger for a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law pair than a mother/daughter pair, even if the preference formation channel is solely from mothers to daughters.


Preference for Leaders with Masculine Voices Holds in the Case of Feminine Leadership Roles

Rindy Anderson & Casey Klofstad
PLoS ONE, December 2012

Human voice pitch research has focused on perceptions of attractiveness, strength, and social dominance. Here we examine the influence of pitch on selection of leaders, and whether this influence varies by leadership role. Male and female leaders with lower-pitched (i.e., masculine) voices are generally preferred by both men and women. We asked whether this preference shifts to favor higher-pitch (i.e., feminine) voices within the specific context of leadership positions that are typically held by women (i.e., feminine leadership roles). In hypothetical elections for two such positions, men and women listened to pairs of male and female voices that differed only in pitch, and were asked which of each pair they would vote for. As in previous studies, men and women preferred female candidates with masculine voices. Likewise, men preferred men with masculine voices. Women, however, did not discriminate between male voices. Overall, contrary to research showing that perceptions of voice pitch can be influenced by social context, these results suggest that the influence of voice pitch on perceptions of leadership capacity is largely consistent across different domains of leadership.


The "Bad Parent" Assumption: How Gender Stereotypes Affect Reactions to Working Mothers

Tyler Okimoto & Madeline Heilman
Journal of Social Issues, December 2012, Pages 704-724

Although balancing work and family commitments is a significant source of strain for working parents, working mothers in traditionally male positions face additional anxiety due to unfounded assumptions about their competence as employees, assumptions rooted in gender stereotypes. However, stereotype-based assumptions can also bias competence impressions of these working mothers in family domains, depicting them as bad parents. In four experimental studies, we documented evidence that working mothers are seen as less effective parents than nonworking mothers. Consistent with the argument that gender stereotypes underlie these findings, the bad parent assumption was apparent only for mothers and not fathers (Study 1), only when working in a male sex-typed occupation (Study 2), more intensely when job success was clear (Study 3), and only when working out of personal choice (Study 4). Similar patterns were observed in ratings of interpersonal appeal (e.g., likability, friend desirability, coworker desirability), relational judgments suggesting that there are also negative social consequences for working mothers.


Sticks, Stones, Words, and Broken Bones: New Field and Lab Evidence on Stereotype Threat

Thomas Wei
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2012, Pages 465-488

Stereotype threat is frequently purported to be an important determinant of gender gaps in math. Unlike prior studies, which mostly occur in lab settings, I use data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - a large, representative assessment of U.S. children - where through a design quirk, students are randomly assigned test blocks, some of which include gender prime questions while others do not. I exploit this natural field experiment by comparing the gender gap in math scores of students receiving primes to those who do not. I find that girls actually perform better relative to boys for some primes (stereotype reactance) and no worse for others. These findings suggest that stereotype priming effects are relevant outside of lab settings, and that consistent with findings from a companion lab experiment and other lab studies from the stereotype literature, the effects appear to depend on the exact phrasing of the primes.


Gender, Debt, and Dropping Out of College

Rachel Dwyer, Randy Hodson & Laura McCloud
Gender & Society, forthcoming

For many young Americans, access to credit has become critical to completing a college education and embarking on a successful career path. Young people increasingly face the trade-off of taking on debt to complete college or foregoing college and taking their chances in the labor market without a college degree. These trade-offs are gendered by differences in college preparation and support and by the different labor market opportunities women and men face that affect the value of a college degree and future difficulties they may face in repaying college debt. We examine these new realities by studying gender differences in the role of debt in the pivotal event of graduating from college using the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. In this article, we find that women and men both experience slowing and even diminishing probabilities of graduating when carrying high levels of debt, but that men drop out at lower levels of debt than do women. We conclude by theorizing that high levels of debt are one of the mechanisms that sort women and men into different positions in the social stratification system.


Thanks, But No Thanks: Women's Avoidance of Help-Seeking in the Context of a Dependency-Related Stereotype

Juliet Wakefield, Nick Hopkins & Ronni Greenwood
Psychology of Women Quarterly, December 2012, Pages 423-431

The stereotype that women are dependent on men is a commonly verbalized, potentially damaging aspect of benevolent sexism. We investigated how women may use behavioral disconfirmation of the personal applicability of the stereotype to negotiate such sexism. In an experiment (N = 86), we manipulated female college students' awareness that women may be stereotyped by men as dependent. We then placed participants in a situation where they needed help. Women made aware of the dependency stereotype (compared to controls who were not) were less willing to seek help. They also displayed a stronger negative correlation between help-seeking and post help-seeking affect - such that the more help they sought, the worse they felt. We discuss the relevance of these findings for research concerning women's help-seeking and their management of sexist stereotyping in everyday interaction. We also consider the implications of our results for those working in domains such as health care, teaching, and counseling, where interaction with individuals in need and requiring help is common.


Macro-level gender equality and depression in men and women in Europe

Sarah Van de Velde et al.
Sociology of Health & Illness, forthcoming

A recurrent finding in international literature is a greater prevalence of depression in women than in men. While explanations for this gender gap have been studied extensively at the individual level, few researchers have studied macro-level determinants of depression in men and women. In the current study we aim to examine the micro-macro linkage of the relationship between gender equality and depression by gender in Europe, using data from the European Social Survey, 2006-2007 (N = 39,891). Using a multilevel framework we find that a high degree of macro-level gender equality is related to lower levels of depression in both women and men. It is also related to a smaller gender difference in depression, but only for certain social subgroups and only for specific dimensions of gender equality.


Holding Fast: The Persistence and Dominance of Gender Stereotypes

Philip Grossman
Economic Inquiry, January 2013, Pages 747-763

This paper investigates the persistence of gender stereotyping in the forecasting of risk attitudes. Subjects predict the gamble choice of target subjects in one of two treatments. First, based only on visual clues and then based on visual clues plus two responses by the target from a risk-preference survey. Second in reverse order: first, based only on the two responses, then on the two responses plus visual clues. In isolation the gender stereotype and survey responses both inform predictions about others' risk attitudes. In conjunction with one another, however, the stereotype persists and dominates the survey response information.


Women and the Wild: Gender Socialization in Wilderness Recreation Advertising

Jamie McNiel, Deborah Harris & Kristi Fondren
Gender Issues, December 2012, Pages 39-55

Women are underrepresented in wilderness recreation despite the numerous benefits such activities provide to mental, physical, and emotional health. Several theories have been proposed linking women's beliefs about their competence in outdoor spaces, fears of victimization, and concerns over retaining femininity to their lack of participation. We explore media representations of wilderness recreation as a possible agent in the gender socialization process that dissuades women from participation. Through analyzing advertisements from the 42 issues of Backpacker and Outside magazines published in 2008 and 2009 we find that, when women are shown, they are portrayed as having limited and passive roles in wilderness recreation. These advertisements also use the setting to reinforce traditional gender arrangements and paint women as consumers rather than conquerors of the wild. When women are shown as active participants in wilderness recreation, their physical accomplishments are often either downplayed or depicted as the endeavors of "unique" women who require feminization.


Gender-Based Navigation Stereotype Improves Men's Search for a Hidden Goal

Harriet Rosenthal et al.
Sex Roles, December 2012, Pages 682-695

While a general stereotype exists that men are better at navigating than women, experimental evidence indicates that men and women differ in their use of spatial strategies, and this preference determines gender-differences. When both environmental geometry and landmark cues are available, men appear to learn to navigate using both types of cues, while women show a preference for using landmarks. Using a computer-generated task, 80 undergraduate students from North-East England learned to navigate to a hidden goal. Activating the general navigation stereotype improved the performance of men, compared to the control condition, both when only geometric cues and only landmark cues were present (stereotype lift), suggesting that activating a general stereotype can affect tasks both with (geometry) and without (landmark) established gender-differences in preference. In addition, in the test trial (hidden goal removed) women who learned to navigate using only landmarks spent longer in the correct location of the hidden goal than those who learned to navigate using only geometry. In contrast, the opposite result was found for men, suggesting that when only one cue-type is available, gender-differences still occur, with women better able to navigate using landmarks than geometry, while men seemed to learn more about the location of the goal with reference to geometric than landmark cues.


A Sex Difference in the Predisposition for Physical Competition: Males Play Sports Much More than Females Even in the Contemporary U.S.

Robert Deaner et al.
PLoS ONE, November 2012

Much evidence indicates that men experienced an evolutionary history of physical competition, both one-on-one and in coalitions. We thus hypothesized that, compared to girls and women, boys and men will possess a greater motivational predisposition to be interested in sports, especially team sports. According to most scholars, advocacy groups, and the United States courts, however, this hypothesis is challenged by modest sex differences in organized school sports participation in the contemporary U.S., where females comprise 42% of high school participants and 43% of intercollegiate participants. We conducted three studies to test whether organized school sports participation data underestimate the actual sex difference in sports participation. Study 1 analyzed the American Time Use Survey, which interviewed 112,000 individuals regarding their activities during one day. Females accounted for 51% of exercise (i.e., non-competitive) participations, 24% of total sports participations, and 20% of team sports participations. These sex differences were similar for older and younger age groups. Study 2 was based on systematic observations of sports and exercise at 41 public parks in four states. Females accounted for 37% of exercise participations, 19% of individual sports participations, and 10% of team sports participations. Study 3 involved surveying colleges and universities about intramural sports, which primarily consist of undergraduate participation in team sports. Across 34 institutions, females accounted for 26% of registrations. Nine institutions provided historical data, and these did not indicate that the sex difference is diminishing. Therefore, although efforts to ensure more equitable access to sports in the U.S. (i.e., Title IX) have produced many benefits, patterns of sports participation do not challenge the hypothesis of a large sex difference in interest and participation in physical competition.


How Tweet It Is: A Gendered Analysis of Professional Tennis Players' Self-Presentation on Twitter

Katie Lebel & Karen Danylchuk
International Journal of Sport Communication, December 2012, Pages 461-480

The innovations of social media have altered the traditional methods of fan -athlete interaction while redefining how celebrity athletes practice their roles as celebrities. This study explored gender differences in professional athletes' self-presentation on Twitter. Content analyses were used to compare male and female athletes' tweets relayed by all professional tennis players with a verified Twitter account. Profile details and messages were scoured for themes and patterns of use during the time surrounding the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Goffman's seminal 1959 theory of self-presentation guided the analysis. While athlete image construction was found to be largely similar between genders, male athletes were found to spend more time in the role of sport fan while female athletes spent more time in the role of brand manager.


Whistling: Yet another gender difference

Armando Simón
Journal of Gender Studies, Fall 2012, Pages 413-415

The behavior and features of whistlers has been overlooked as an object of study. In this study a brief survey was distributed asking for subjects' ages, gender, ability to whistle, and the frequency of their whistling. It was found that males reported whistling more often than females, and that frequency of whistling diminishes with age for females, but not for males.


Working memory is differentially affected by stress in men and women

Daniela Schoofs et al.
Behavioural Brain Research, forthcoming

Stress has been shown to influence working memory. However, sex differences and the potential impact of stimulus emotionality have not received much attention. In a first experiment the effects of stress on a neutral working memory working memory (WM) paradigm were tested in male and female participants (Experiment 1). Experiment 2 employed the same paradigm but used emotional stimuli. For this purpose, healthy participants were exposed either to a stressful (Trierer Social Stress Test (TSST)) or to a non-stressful control condition. Subsequently, WM performance in an n-back task was assessed. In Experiment 1, single digits were used as stimuli, while in Experiment 2 neutral and negative pictures were additionally employed. Salivary cortisol and Alpha-Amylase (sAA) were measured before and three times after the treatment as a marker of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis- and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. In both experiments, stress caused a substantial cortisol and sAA increase. For WM performance (response time) a stress by sex interaction was apparent. Stress enhanced performance in men, while impairing it in women. In both experiments stress had no effect on response accuracy. No modulating effect of the emotional quality of stimuli on n-back performance was observed (study 2). The results indicate that the effect of acute stress on n-back performance differs between the sexes. In contrast to long-term memory, the influence of stress on WM appears not to be modulated by the emotionality of the employed stimuli if stimuli are potential targets as it is the case in the n-back task.


Hemodynamic and Psychological Responses to Laboratory Stressors in Women: Assessing the Roles of Menstrual Cycle Phase, Premenstrual Symptomatology, and Sleep Characteristics

Kathleen Lustyk et al.
International Journal of Psychophysiology, December 2012, Pages 283-290

This study assessed whether premenstrual symptomatology and/or sleep characteristics explain increased luteal phase psychophysiological reactivity to laboratory stressors. We hypothesized that: (1) premenstrual symptoms and sleep characteristics would explain greater luteal versus follicular phase psychophysiological reactivity, (2) symptoms and sleep characteristics would differentially predict psychophysiological reactivity within each cycle phase, and (3) symptoms and sleep characteristics would interact to affect luteal but not follicular reactivity. Freely cycling women (N = 87) completed two laboratory sessions, one follicular (cycle days 5-9) and one luteal (days 7-10 post-ovulation). We employed two stressors: one physical (cold pressor task) and the other cognitive in nature (Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task). During testing, electrocardiography monitored heart rate (HR) while a timed and auto-inflatable sphygmomanometer assessed blood pressure (BP). Participants also completed a one-time self-report measure of sleep characteristics and premenstrual symptomatology as well as a measure of state anxiety pre-post stressor. Results revealed greater luteal HR and systolic BP reactivity compared to follicular reactivity (p < 0.001 for both analyses), however neither premenstrual symptoms nor sleep characteristics explained this luteal increase. Within cycle analyses revealed that symptoms and sleep characteristics interacted to affect luteal phase state anxiety reactivity (R2 = .32, p = .002) with negative affect being associated with more reactivity when sleep hours were low (β = .333, p = .04). Overall, significant relationships existed during the luteal phase only. Findings are discussed in terms of clinical utility and methodological challenges related to performing laboratory stress testing in women.

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