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Gender socialization within the family: a study on adolescents and their parents in Great Britain

Isabella Crespi

Department of Sociology Catholic University of Milan

Paper for BHPS 2003 Draft. Comments and suggestions very welcome. Please contact

1. Introduction The aim of this paper is to show that it is possible to study different dimensions of gender socialization, which vary in their impact on youth people and which are essential to build up a gender identity. A key feature of this paper is that we show that it is possible to use social survey data to construct factor scores from categorical component variables to measure different dimensions of gender socialization within the family such as result of mother and father gender attitude and socio-cultural dimensions. The second part of the paper develops my theoretical approach, and shows how the concept of gender socialization is ultimately based on a theory of relational ties that needs to be highlight within family relationships. This theoretical elaboration leads on to show how it is possible to look for gender socialization within family relationships. 1.1 Society and gender roles: different expectations for males and females The way we are, behave and think is the final product of socialisation. Since the moment we are born, we are being moulded into the being the society wants us to be. Through socialisation we also learn what is appropriate and improper for both genders. This paper will focus on how in particular family and parents attitudes mediate traditional gender roles in our society and the effect on their attitude towards gender roles on youth people. No human trait is so emphasized as gender. We are deluged, even as infants, with "Oh, you're a big boy" or "you are such a pretty little girl" for example. As Freud observed, the first thing we instantly determine, when meeting someone new, is gender. Indeed, it will probably trouble us if we can't tell which gender the person is. Maybe this "need to know" has something to do with "knowing how to act" with this person. According to psychologists such as Sandra Bem (1993), one cognitive process that seems nearly inevitable in humans is to divide people into groups. We can partition these groups on the basis of race, age, religion, and so forth. However, the major way in which we usually split humanity is on the basis of gender. This process of categorizing others in terms of gender is both habitual and automatic. It's nearly impossible to suppress the tendency to split the world in half, using gender as the great divider. When we divide the world into two groups, male and female, we tend to see all males as being similar, all females as being similar, and the two categories of "male" and "female" as being very different from each other. In real life, the characteristics of women and men tend to overlap. Unfortunately, however, gender polarization often creates an artificial gap between women and men. As mentioned above, the different ways of males and females interacting fit nicely with differences in men and women's value systems. Women value being sensitive and maintaining good relationships, i.e. attachment over achievement; men value gaining status by following "the rules," i.e. achievement over attachment. Since our society values competition and individuals being successful on their own, women's orientation towards caring for others and/or cooperatively building the community is considered (by the male dominated society) to be of lesser importance. These value differences are reflected in the gender roles established by our culture. Gender stereotypes are related to cognitive processes because we have different expectations for female and male behaviour. A classic study focused on adults' interpretations of infants' behaviour. Condry and Condry (1976) prepared videotapes of an infant responding to a variety of stimuli. For example, the infant stared and then cried in response to a jack-in-the-box that suddenly popped open. College students had been led to believe that the infant was either a baby girl or a baby boy. When students watched the videotape with the jack-in-the-box, those who thought the infant was a 2

boy tended to judge that "he" was showing anger. When they thought that the infant was a girl, they decided that "she" was showing fear. Remember that everyone saw the same videotape of the same infant. However, the ambiguous negative reaction was given a more masculine label (anger, rather than fear) when the infant was perceived to be a boy. Women are encouraged to be good mothers they need, therefore, to first attract a man to depend on; they are expected (by our culture) to be giving, emotional, unstable, weak, and talkative about their problems; they are valued for their looks or charm or smallness but not their strength or brains; they are considered unfeminine ("bad") if they are ambitious, demanding, and tough or rough; they are expected to follow "their man" and give their lives to "their children," and so on (Pogrebin, 1980). We tend to believe the male experience to be normative. A gender difference is therefore typically explained in terms of why the female differs from that norm. For example, research often shows a gender difference in self-confidence. However, these studies almost always ask about why females are low in self-confidence, relative to the male norm. They rarely speculate about whether females are actually on target as far as self-confidence, and whether males may actually be too high in selfconfidence (Tavris, 1992). Here we will deal with the opposite male dominance and feeling superior to women. (Note: besides gender, humans use several other bases for feeling superior: looks, wealth, education, status, job, race-ethnic group, nationality, religion, morals, size, talent, etc.) Of course, not all men have power and arrogantly dominate women; indeed, according to Farrell (1993), many men are dominated by "the system" and considered disposable. Also, women are given certain advantages and "protected" in many ways that men do not enjoy. Farrell contends that believing (falsely) that men have all the power and advantages leads to women feeling oppressed and angry. As a result of women's unhappiness and criticism, men feel unappreciated. Altogether, the misunderstandings between the sexes are keeping the sexes apart. This is an important thesis. Clearly, each sex has and utilizes power in certain ways and we are getting more equal, but, clearly, the sexes aren't equals yet. Within the two career families of today, the women-are-inferior attitude is muted and concealed, but the archaic sex role expectations are still subtly there. The old rules still serve to "put down women and keep them in their place." Sixty years ago, Margaret Mead told us, based on what is done in other cultures, that it wasn't innate for men to be decision-makers and breadwinners or for women to be subservient and raise children. Nevertheless, our culture continues to pressure to conform to these gender roles and do what women are "supposed to do"; the cultural, family, and friends' expectations become internalised as our own self-expectations; guilt may result if we don't follow the prescribed roles. Gender roles limit what both males and females can do. In effect, these sex roles enslave us force us to be what others want us to be1. The most recent suggestion is to completely disassociate gender from all personality traits. Just define what each personal trait, such as submissiveness, involves in terms of actions and feelings and let each human being decide how submissive or cooperative he/she is and wants to be. The future can be different. A recent survey found that three out of four mothers, even of young children, like or love their work outside the home. 1.2. Gender roles and gender stereotypes Often we tend to use indifferently those two terms even if there is a great difference between them, particularly in relation to the concept of gender. In fact stereotypes are representative of a societys collective knowledge of customs, myths, ideas, religions, and sciences (Macrae, Stangor, & Hewstone, 1996). It is within this knowledge that an individual develops a stereotype or a belief about a certain group. Social psychologists feel that the stereotype is one part of an individuals social knowledge. As a result of their knowledge, or lack of knowledge, the stereotype has an effect on their social behaviour.
See Cook (1985), Bem (1976, 1993), Kaplan and Bem (1976), or Lorber (1994) for a discussion of gender roles and inequality.

Stereotypic behaviour can be linked to the way that the stereotype is learned, transmitted, and changed and this is part of the socialization process as well. The culture of an individual influences stereotypes through information that is received from indirect sources such as parents, peers, teachers, political and religious leaders, and the mass media (Macrae, Stangor, & Hewstone, 1996). In order to understand stereotyping, an individual must first be made knowledgeable about the definition of a stereotype. A stereotype is defined as an unvarying form or pattern, specifically a fixed or conventional notion or conception of a person, group, idea, etc, held by a number of people and allows for no individuality or critical judgment (Websters New World Dictionary, 1998). However, social psychologists have a somewhat different approach to defining a stereotype. Social psychologists define a stereotype as being a cognitive structure containing the perceivers knowledge, beliefs, and expectancies about some human social group. These two definitions could highlight the different aspects of stereotyping. Stereotyping occurs all the time in society. People stereotype others for many different reasons. Individuals get stereotyped because of their gender. If you are a male, you are to be strong and the breadwinner of the family. Women are to take care of the children and to clean the house. People of different ages get stereotyped. Older adults do not think younger adults could possibly understand what is like to have responsibility. Therefore, younger adults are irresponsible. Younger adults do not think older adults listen or respect them because of their age. Different characteristics that we stereotype are: races, cultures, clothing styles, economic statuses, hair styles, mannerisms/behaviours, languages, jobs, weights, etc. Stereotyping is how we perceive each other, especially individuals outside our group. What we believe to be normal is associated with who we are hanging out with. Which are usually our friends and social networks. Obviously males and females are somewhat different creatures. The truth of the matter, however, is that they are not really as different as most perceive them to be (Burn, 1996). By nature, men and women have some biological differences, but it is life experience that reinforces or contradicts those differences (Basow, 1980). The truth lies in differential socialization, which claims that males and females are taught different appropriate behaviours for their gender (Burn, 1996). This begins at such an early age that children fully understand how to act according to their gender by age five or six (Basow, 1980). 2. Gender socialisation process Socialisation is the process, through which the child becomes an individual respecting his or hers environment's laws, norms and customs (Vuorinen & Tuunala, 1997, p. 45). Gender socialisation is a more focused form of socialisation, it is how children of different sexes are socialised into their gender roles (Giddens, 1993, p. 165) and taught what it means to be male or female (Morris, 1988, p. 366). The classical example of gender socialisation is the experiment done with a baby that was introduced as a male to half of the study subjects and as a female to the other half. The results are interesting and quite disturbing at the same time. When the participants thought they were playing with a baby boy, "he" was offered toys, such as a hammer or rattle, while if the participants thought they were playing with a baby girl, "she" was offered a doll. The participants also touched the baby differently. It was found that baby boys are often bounced, thus stimulating the whole body, whereas girls are touched more gentler and less vigorously (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 500). In another study it was found out that words such as "sturdy", "handsome" and "tough" are used to describe boy infants and "dainty", "sweet" and "charming" for girl infants, although there was no differences in the sizes of the infants (Giddens, 1993, p. 166). These findings show that other people contribute a lot as we see ourselves only on the basis of gender. In the first case presented, the message that the participants were sending was that if the baby is a boy, he must play with hammers and such only because of his gender, while on the other hand girls have to play with dolls because they are girls. In the second case we can see that boys are 4

socialised to be tough, while girls are supposed to be sweet and charming. These simple stereotypes will continue to be enhanced in the future by other agencies of socialisation, which will be discussed below. The traditional gender roles help to sustain gender stereotypes, such as that males are supposed to be adventurous, assertive aggressive, independent and task-oriented, whereas females are seen as more sensitive, gentle, dependent, emotional and people-oriented. In the same way, males are expected to major in sciences or economics in college, while women should study arts, languages and humanities. Finally, in the work force these stereotypes persist, more men become doctors, construction workers, mechanics, pilots, bankers and engineers and more women become secretaries, teachers, nurses, flight attendants, bank tellers and housewives. This can be seen from the statistics, how some labour force areas still are male and female oriented. (Brehm, Kassin & Fein, 1999, p. 150156). Traditionally, men are supposed to earn a living to support their families. They are to be aggressive and in charge. Women belong at home cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. They are to be submissive and weak. Gender stereotypes such as these pervade society today (Hetherington & Parke, 1999). Though they are quite obvious among adults, gender stereotypes do not seem like an issue that adolescents would have to face. This is most definitely not the case. Younger people, in fact, hold stricter to stereotypes than do adults (Hetherington & Parke, 1999). This paper will discuss the formation of gender stereotypes in adolescence,. Social norms and roles are important in understanding not only the language of a certain group, but the individual members of those groups as well (Macrae, Stonger, & Hewstone, 1996). It is the norms and roles developed in an individuals culture that contribute to particular beliefs about groups that have been stereotyped. Conformity, the act of following the norms, is also an influence of social behaviour. If everyone around an individual is stereotyping a certain group, chances are that individual will conform to the group and do the same. As mentioned earlier, the stereotype often determines the extent of the social behaviour toward a group. Shared group beliefs, the same belief(s) held by each member of the group, do influence normative behaviours (Macrae, Stonger, & Hewstone, 1996). Language, the mass media, and social norms are only a few factors that influence stereotypes which intern influence social behaviour. An individual may also consider environmental factors, such as living conditions, as another influence to social behaviour. Language provides a basic mechanism by which individuals are categorized into groups, and by which stereotypes are shared with others. (A shared stereotype is simply the same stereotype that is held by more than one person). Language also consists of processes, which involve naming, labelling, and categorizing. The role of language, in reference to stereotypes, leads to a direct focus on the content of the category labels and the stereotypes (Macrae, Stangor, & Hewstone). Some examples of category labelling are blacks, homosexuals, women, nerds, etc. It is these labels and the context that they are used in that determine the reaction an individual may have to a person fitting the category. Their social behaviour may be negative or positive depending on how they interpret the given label2. Furthermore people recall gender-consistent information more accurately than gender-inconsistent information. Selective recall is especially likely when people are faced with too many simultaneous tasks (Macrae, Hewstone, & Griffiths, 1993).

For example, Arnie Cann (1993) found that students recalled sentences like "Jane is a good nurse" better than "Jane is a bad nurse." When someone is employed in a gender-consistent occupation, we recall this person's competence. In contrast, students recalled sentences like "John is a bad nurse" better than "John is a good nurse." When someone is employed in a gender-inconsistent occupation, we recall this person's incompetence. Notice that when we combine selective recall with the other cognitive factors--gender polarization, differential expectations, and the normative male-we strengthen and perpetuate our existing stereotypes.

2.1 Gender socialization: differences between boys and girls Gender socialisation begins at the moment we are born, from the simple question "is it a boy or a girl?" (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 499). We learn our gender roles by agencies of socialisation, which are the "teachers" of the society. The main agencies in our society are the family, peer groups, schools and media. In respect with gender socialisation, each of the agencies could reinforce the gender stereotypes. Gender differences result from socialization process, especially during our childhood and adolescence. For instance, before we are 3 years old, there are fascinating differences between how boys and girls interact (DeAngelis, 1989). Boys attempt to dominate, to control, to find out "Am I better than you?" They do this by little contests or by being aggressive, if necessary. They establish their status and then continue to try to use power to improve their position in the "pecking order (De Angelis, 1989). In contrast, girls and women try to establish and improve their relationships, as if they were always asking "Do you like me?" Because boys and girls want to do different things, boys and girls start avoiding each other at 3 or 4. By age 6, girls so dislike the rough competitive play and domination by boys that they choose girls over boys as playmates 10 to 1. Little boys don't like "girl's games" either. Indeed, if asked, boys will express horror at the idea of suddenly becoming girls; girls aren't horrified of becoming a boy, they quickly recognize the advantages of being a boy. Boys constantly want to win at active, competitive activities and seem less interested in "winning friends." Several studies have also found that older boys will comply with a male peer's suggestion but will stubbornly not comply with the same suggestion from a female peer. This is especially true if other males are watching. Radical feminists have contended that our society teaches males to hate females. The Psychoanalysts believe little boys 3 to 6 undergo great turmoil as they must give up their identification with a close, nurturing mother and switch it to a father. In this process, boys may be unwittingly taught to dislike, even disdain female (mother's) characteristics in order to give them up; thus, the "hatred" of women's ways (and little girls) may be generated in little boys. Also, in this early process, boys may learn to suppress their urges to show affection (to mother especially) but also that loosing intimacy (with mother) can cause great pain; perhaps this is the origin of some grown men's fear of intimacy (Hudson & Jacot, 1992). Girls, since they never have to give up their identification with mother, tend to develop a fear of possible separation which results in greater needs for intimate affiliation. On the other hand, girls do have to shift their sexual orientation from a mother-like person to a father-like person, and boys do not. This may help explain boys' greater focus on the female body as a sexual object (more than male bodies being a sexual stimulus for women), boys' greater homophobia, males' greater emphasis on sex and less on closeness, and other differences between male and female sexuality. So, according to Judith Viorst (1986) in Necessary Losses, we all suffered a serious loss (boys giving up Mom as an identification and girls giving up Mom as a sexual object) that has a permanent impact on our personalities. At this point, psychologists don't know for sure how little boys are taught to disdain girls or why boys feel superior, are more aggressive, and are especially uncooperative with females. We only have hunches, but gaining more knowledge is critical. Males commit 90% of all violent crimes; this violence needs to be stopped (Miedzian, 1991; Stoltenberg, 1990). Neither do we know why the self-esteem of girls drops markedly at ages 12 or 13 or why girls are more cooperative and involved in relationships (Gilligan, Lyons & Hanmer, 1990). Before puberty, girls do better than boys in school, have better social skills, and have a lot of confidence. After puberty, girls do less well in school, lose confidence, worry about their bodies and diets, get hurt in relationships, and become more depressed. Actually, interesting recent research indicates that the drop in math and science grades only occurs in girls from traditional families in which gender roles are emphasized and the mothers are assigned the child-rearing role.

Since research gives us only a few hints about the causes of these many changes in girls at puberty, we can only speculate (see Brown & Gilligan, 1993; Orenstein, 1994; Nolen-Hoeksema & Girgus, 1994), but it seems unlikely that genes and hormones cause females to be smarter before puberty and dumber afterwards. 2.2 Theoretical approaches to gender roles socialization Reinforcement theory simply means rewarding the desired actions and punishing the undesired ones, this works the same way as operant conditioning. Therefore the traits that the socialisers want to be emphasised in the future are being reinforced. This theory however does not take into account that not everything has to be learned by ourselves anymore, we have other people showing us what to do. Cognitive development theory also depends on observational learning, but it states that children do not imitate everything blindly; they use intellectual operations to choose the useful information and leave out the meaningless (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 490-492). Social learning theory on the other hand emphasises observational learning. Children observe other persons and imitate them, and therefore learn something new. Gender roles are belief systems that guide the way we process information, including information about gender. One theory which is considered important to the learning of gender identity is Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory. According to this theory, gender typing is explained as being neither biologically determined or inevitable, but a result of day to day interactions between the developing child and his or her immediate social environment (Unger & Crawford, 1992). Through social learning, children learn behaviours which are considered appropriate for their sex through observations of others, such as a same sex parent; as well as, through messages communicated by the media. Research on social learning theory, and the learning of sex roles, supports the view that children learn by imitation, as children learn what behaviours and roles are expected of them by observing others' behaviour being reinforced or punished. Seeing someone reinforced for a behaviour, such as a girl playing with a doll being reinforced for being nurturant, may be expressed as being what is appropriate, reinforcing behaviour for a female. Therefore, a girl may associate reinforcement with that behaviour, which may make that behaviour appear positive for a female. After all this is said about the way we are brought up, there is still the question about biological differences. Often gender roles are defended by biological differences of sexes, and it is true that differences exist. It is true that males are from birth more physically active and irritable than females. This difference is also seen in other primates. Also in every culture males commit more violent acts than females. This evidence would verify that boys are predisposed toward physical aggression, which is even enhanced by the male sex hormones. But however socialisation would seem to magnify this predisposition as boys are given toy swords and guns, while the aggression in girls is discouraged and they are given cooking sets and dolls as toys (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 502-503). In contrast what should be done is that males should be reared in a way that would not emphasise aggression. That way, the biological predisposition could be fought with socialisation, and perhaps less violent crimes would be committed. From a sociological point of view, the more important aspect and, in some ways, ' fundamental' of the sociological reflection is the ability to use at an empirical level, the concepts elaborates in theoretical debate, realizing "a hermeneutic" connection between interpretative framework and social life, showing of the heuristic potentiality and giving visibility to the indissoluble tie between micro and macro social levels. Gender socialization can be read like a relational process (Donati, 1998). It is unavoidable that in the transformation a simplification is put into effect, a reduction of the complexity of the terms in game, because you need to lead back the factors that explain a social phenomenon to one more rigid pattern of reality: in order not to fall in the trap of the interpretation 7

merely casual it is necessary to always place, to the centre of attention, the relation between different factors that it concurs to see the phenomena from more points of view, in a multidimensional perspective . The relational model is assumed like point of observation to verify the hypotheses in order to characterize those that are the gender socializing outcomes in the contemporary society. That appears clear if it is believed that every choice is linked to multidimensional situations, that is relational contexts, in which the phenomena are networks of phenomena and every node represents interlaces of challenges, ties and resources. To speak about challenges and resources in gender socialization, means therefore to simplify the reality, to circumscribe a point of view from which to observe a phenomenon, but always holding account that is a relational phenomenon, in which more dimensions are intersected. Therefore, identifying the challenges, a groupt of factors is identified, that, in relation to the resources are shaped as selected opportunities, and circumscribing the resources, a network of elements that appear strategic in relation to the challenges is defined. Consequently gender socialization process is divided in two orders of factors, that they make head one to the challenges and the other to the resources, in the hypothesis that behind every phenomenon are however the intentions of the actors who arrange in a more or less balanced way, with reference to the context of options that delimits the action, objects to reach and strategies of participation. The relational model considers every phenomenon as the outcome of a process in which the challenges that the context places to the actors and the resources who are put in field, with greater or smaller facility, in order to answer to the challenges, are put implicitly or explicitly in comparison. The risk therefore is given from the relation of adequacy/inadequacy between challenges and resources. Gender socialization takes shaped as risky and is imagined like an interlace in which challenges and resources must be arranged; the challenges are those shown from a context in which gender indifferentiation is shuffled with the persistence of some stereotypes and in which a stable identity seems to be at least a difficult task and the resources are those predisposed in the relationship with the family and the school and also the own gender culture learned in different situations. Lets consider in particular the family. 3. The family as a gendered relationships: influences on gender socialization process It is said before that parents are the primary influence on gender role development in early years of life (Santrock; Miller & Lane in Berryman-Fink, Ballard-Reisch, & Newman; Kaplan in Witt, 1997). Parents encourage children to participate in sex-typed activities, such as playing with dolls for girls and playing with trucks for boys (Eccles, Jacobs, & Harold in Witt, 1997). In addition to that, parents might send subtle messages to children on what they think is acceptable for each gender (Arliss in Witt, 1997). Parents even speak and play differently with their male and female children. Parents also use punishment, by expressing disapproval, if children intent to break the norms of gender roles, such as when a boy plays with a dolls house (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 500) and boys are usually discouraged from showing emotions (Morris, 1988, p. 366). Even if the parents would not intentionally send any messages, children will soon enough notice the differences between sexes by observing adults, therefore noticing how they are "supposed" to act. Men are supposed to be tough and aggressive, while women are expected to be submissive and more emotionally expressive than men. It can also observed that women and men have different kind of jobs, men going out to work, while women often work as unpaid housewives, so children's future goals are being restricted from very early on (Gleitman, Friedlund & Reisberg, 2000, p. 500). In the domestic chores, parents sometimes expect children of different gender perform different kind of tasks; boys are assigned to do maintenance chores, such as moving the lawn and girls are assigned to do the cooking or doing the laundry (Basow in Witt, 1997). This 8

segregation of tasks by gender lead children think that some tasks are more male and some more female (Witt, 1997). A childs parents are some of the first socialization agents he or she will come into contact with. Parents teach stereotypes through different ways and behaviour: the way they dress their children, they way they decorate their children's rooms, the toys they give their children to play with, their own attitudes and behaviours (Hetherington and Parke, 1999). Our parents start teaching us our roles shortly after birth, e.g. boys are cuddled, kissed, and stroked less than girls while girls are less often tossed and handled roughly. In playing with their infants, mothers mirror the young child's expressed emotions. But mothers play down the boy's emotions (in order to keep the boys less excited) while they reflect the baby girl's expressions accurately. Could this possibly be an early cause of adolescent boys denying emotional experiences and not telling others how they feel? We don't know. In addition, remember that boys between 4 and 7 must shift their identities from Mom to Dad. In that process, boys are chided for being a sissy ("like a girl") and we start shoving them on to bicycles and into sports activities; they are praised for being tough; boys start to think they are superior or should be. From then on, schools, churches, governments, entertainment, and employers reinforce the idea that males are superior. What determines who will be the boss in a marriage? Mostly the education of the wife. Peplau, Rubin and Hill (1977) found that among dating couples 95% of the women and 87% of the men say that each sex should have exactly equal power in decision-making. But, less than half of the couples felt their relationship was, in fact, egalitarian. Among the remaining couples, two-thirds of the women and three-quarters of the men felt the man was more in control. Three factors are related to power: (1) the couple's ideas about gender roles, e.g. traditionalists think the man should make the final decisions, (2) the degree to which each one is "in love" or dependent on the other (the less involved partner has more power), and (3) the female's education (if she drops out of college, she is more likely to be dominated; if she gets a graduate degree, she will probably have equal power). So, for an egalitarian relationship, the couple needs to be roughly equal in ability, in love, in neediness, and in education. Who organizes and runs the family? Regardless of who is "the ultimate boss," there is an opportunity for someone to gain some satisfaction or status and power by becoming the family organizer or director. Often that is the wife, either as an assigned role (by the boss) or as a desired acquired role. Stern (1988) writes about The Indispensable Woman, who wants to be needed. So, she takes on a job for extra money, does the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry, keeps track of everyone's clothes and tries to monitor how everyone looks each morning, wants to look fantastic herself, finds the baby sitters, keeps everybody's schedule and makes sure they are on time, plans family activities and "lessons" for the children, helps her husband socialize, is sure the family would fall apart if she didn't run things for everyone, and feels overburdened and unappreciated. Bepko and Krestan (1990) have a similar notion, namely, that women are strongly driven to be "good" and please others; consequently, they take on too much and often feel insecure or unsure that they are good enough. Solution: stop kowtowing and self-sacrificing.3 Feminists have kept up the attack on the unfairness. Susan Faludi (1991) describes many subtle but calculated scare tactics and attacks on feminism, including the frequent description of the single woman as neurotic, emotional, and miserable (e.g. Fatal Attraction), the erroneous but frightening contention that no males will be available for the single female over 30, the spreading of false rumours that women careerists were taking over law, medicine, dental, and other professions, and on and on for 460 pages. One of the most scathing attacks on men is MacKinnon's (1987) Feminism

There are hundreds of books about sexism and how to deal with it. Some of the better early references about women's rights are Freidan (1963), Bengis's (1973) attack on men, Boston Women's (1972) well known catalog, Friedman's (1983) refutation of the idea that you're no body until somebody loves you, Friese, Parsons, Johnson, Ruble & Zellman's (1978) textbook, and Paulsen & Kuhn's (1976) handbook.

Unmodified, in which she underscores that 44% of women are raped or about raped because "men consider women inferior." There can be no doubt that many men still discount or put down women in many ways. Change is slow; it must also be sure. Brownmiller's (1984) book on Femininity is a gold mine of information. Levine's (1992) My Enemy, My Love provides some interesting theories about why males and females frequently get angry with each other. An excellent analysis of gender stereotyping, including the misjudgement of women and mythical gender differences, has been done by Tavris (1992), a social psychologist and good writer. 3.1 Adolescence and gender differences in the family The adolescence is a typical definition of the modern age, in the course of which it is recognized that the transition from infancy to the adult age is characterized by one "specific phase of passage", with the task to prepare the child for the entry in the adult life. The traditional paradigm, that considered the adolescent phase like a critical and crucial moment, has been exceeded from more specific and arranged studies on the argument, recognizing, in this way, importance and autonomy to this important period of life. An important element of change in the theoretical production is that the adolescent growth does not happen only for contrasts, as we were used to think until little decades ago, when the adolescence was seen only like one critical phase of passage to exceed more fastly possible in order to arrive to the adult life; it happens instead by interactions and further adaptations, sometimes conflictual ones also, within a process of relatedness with the peers and the adults. In particular, in the family studies approach, called "symbolic-relational" (Scabini, Cigoli 2000), the adolescence is not anymore characterized as the moment of the separation from the family and the crash with the parents, but like a period of transformation of the pre-existing ties in a different shape that implies a rethinking of the role of sons and of the parents figures. The transition is seen then as regarding the entire family group, because it is a process in which parents and sons are renegotiating their relations on the base of the reciprocal expectations. In other words, parents supply them the cultural gender models in which to identify or from which to distance. The redefinition of the concept of identity is "function of two inseparable psico-social dynamics: the dense assimilation of himself within categories or significant social groups for person - and at the same time, the meaningful differentiation of himself from groups or persons through dynamics of social comparison. It is implied that the assimilation dynamic and the differentiation of himself is unfolded on the base of cultural, behavioural and identity the models available in the several contexts of adolescents life " (Burr, 2000, 46). The tie with the family covers great importance since, as De Pieri and Tonolo (1990) emphasize, within familiar relations structure gender identity assumes the main classifications (included stereotipization) on the male one and the female one. Galimard (1992) emphasizes that the adolescent finds itself in the crucial phase of the identifications with the adult persons, is of just the sex that, for difference, with those of the other sex, and is just through such relation that it tries the distance of its differentiation. 3.2 The young generations: changes of socialization in the family Adolescence is shaped like a process, in which, above all, the relations in which the adolescent is dipped become resources for the construction of a more stable and various identity from that one of infancy. In it are concentrated the challenges to face, but also the resources to put in game in order to realize a passage towards the construction of personal and social identity and towards a new way to interact with the adult world, in the first place with the parents. By now it is wide shared that the family assumes a fundamental importance during the process of socialization because it is the first context the child comes to contact and because it contributes in a 10

privileged way to form the experience of the world and the identity itself (Besozzi, 1993, 125). However it is equally important to emphasize how reductive is to evidence only this temporal aspect of the importance of the family. In fact, today, on one side the children come to contact with other agencies of socialization since the first infancy (infant school), and, on the other side, the importance of the family does not get exhausted itself in infancy, but goes on for all the adolescence and the young hood, until the adult life (an example is the permanence in family of the adult-young people). Therefore, if the family is the agency of primary socialization, it is above all in the sense that has supremacy for the duration in time and for the intensity of the relational ties. If the family is the first context of gender socialization, however it maintains a meaningful and fundamental role in the course of all the growth process also in the adult age. The relationships with the adults, in particular the parents, represent " unavoidable points of reference for the construction of the self and for being able to reach the adult maturity as positively integrated members in the social life" (Muncie J., 1999, 67-68). What read above, finds support in the fact that those who experience serious deficiencies in the relationships with the adults and with their peers, above all during the critical passages (such as infancy and adolescence), meet many difficulties to develop their own personality in a positive and integrated way and to establish significant social relationships (Baldascini 1996; Bisi 1999; CarrMarta 1995). In the last fifty years, we have assisted to a progressive cultural revolution that have invested all social contexts and have favourite the change of the models of education and of socialization to the values and the norms from the adult generations towards the young generations in terms of more democracy, leaving a relatively wide space of negotiation to the young people about the possibility to accept, to refuse or to modify the proposed models (Scabini-Donati, 1991). In particular, today, the family finds itself to mediate with the more general expectations that press it from the outside, from the wider society. A more and more numerous series of agents and social requests places side by side the family in its institutional tasks and takes part on it occupying individual and relational areas that once were specific of the education in the family. We asked ourselves which space, which importance and which resources the family must acquire in order to realize the process of socialization to the gender identity. The phenomenon of the indefinite extension of the adolescence can be emphasized; in the transition to the adult age, today, the ability of the word age to define appropriated norms of behaviour" is diminished (Leccardi, 1993, 106), since the extreme differentiation of the modern society has dissolved the synchronization between age and transitions of role (Zollinger Giele, 1983), provoking what has been synthetically defined " weakening of the biographical institutionalised paths " (Beck, 1986, 38). If previously the adolescence was the phase of passage from infancy to the adult age, the extension of the permanence in family of the young people is today an element that expands the temporal space but also the symbolic one of the traditional phases the life cycle is made of. The adolescence is therefore lived like a preparatory moment to the real phase of passage that becomes the young hood, springboard for the adult age. The numerous contributions to the study of young-adults (Scabini-Cigoli, 1988, Sciolla, 1993; Leccardi, 1993; Buzzi-Cavalli - de Lillo, 2002; Garelli, 1994) have evidenced the necessity to discuss again the studies on the adolescence and its definition of phase of passage to the adult age, above all for the sliding in ahead of the definitive choices, of the so-called the markers of passage (end of the studies, start of a working activity, wedding, sons). Consequently, the same process of socialization is redefined and instead of seeing a progressive removal of the role of the family, replaces it to the centre of new relations between adults, with the consequent ri-negotiation of the symbolic spaces and not only of the relations. So it is very useful to use the interpretation of Donati (1991) that imagines the family as " an interlace of relations in which two levels can be idenitified: on one side a first level that is developed to the inside of the vital world and that origins t a communicative and affective exchange; at a second level as an institution in relationship with the subculture and the social 11

system of belongings, in which multiple ties and expectations are produced". Inside of this complex interlace, parents and adolescents face together the growth process, not without difficulty and risks. On the base of the changes happened in the relation between the generations, the difficulty to connote the period of the life that goes from infancy to the adult age, the vagueness and the ambivalence of the development tasks that impinge on the individual and its family, the limitation of the medical paradigm that consider the adolescence like synonym of crisis, if not of pathology of the personality and, not last, the partiality of an approach that mostly puts the accent on the horizontal socialization of the peer group, when the preparation to a long cohabitation in the origin familiar nucleus obligates, just in this phase, to a forced ri-socialisation within the family, induces to look for new approaches to the study of transition to adulthood. The already cited adolescent condition that more and more often goes on within the family until it results in the young-adult condition, that the educational relationship that is generated is more and more uncertain and risky, tied to the various reorganization of familiar relational dynamics. As far as, as an example, the attainment of the autonomy " the parents tend to favour the autonomy of the son, with creating in him useful customs, removing the harmful behaviours, teaching the ability to change according to circumstances and guaranteeing also stability within a frame of reference values" (Tonolo, 1999, 90). But all this is to be negotiated and renegotiated continuously regarding the past. To become progressively adult4 - that is to be able to construct and to develop their own life means " not only to free from the condition of dependency from the parents acquiring enough autonomy, but mainly, to structure its own personality " (Bimbi, 1993, 79); to become progressively adult means, in positive, to acquire a way of looking at social reality. In this complex growth way, a positive outcome of the process is not foreseen at all. Every human beings, particularly who is in the developmental phase, runs the continuous risk of taking wrong ways. 3.3 Gender and identity in family The original identity of the growing adolescent should be respected and valued, even if it is true that it outline and build itself in the history and by means of the multiple experiences and human relations that realize. The relations have therefore a very important value in the construction of the identity, in particular for the individual in the making. From that, emerges a specific responsibility of the adults in the comparisons of this path. Above all with regard to gender difference, the family in fact, unlike other groups, is characterized by a specific way to live (Donati, 1998, VIII) and to construct gender differences, through a process that is surely biological, but also relational and social. The family is " the social and symbolic place in which the difference, in particular the sexual difference, is assumed like founding and at the same time constructed " (Saraceno, 1988, 10). In particular, in the family the gender characterization reflects the individualities of the parents. The family is therefore a gender relation. In the family, the relation with the father and the mother assumes therefore one fundamental importance in the definition of the gender belonging, because first experiences of relation with male and female. In the relationship parents and sons that gender identities are socialized, are created the expectations towards male and female roles; and such expectations are today various and new compared with the past. The models from which fathers and mothers take inspiration have carried to verify as " the crisis of the paternal authority has given space to shapes of educational relation with the son by the father
As Arcidiacono explains (1991, 97-98), " the relation/tie leads the needs of dependency of the individual, are worth to say the necessity of being in relation with others in order to guarantee the survival in order to learn those competences, affective, intellective and social that are own of the human being. The separation and the autonomy are necessary to the individual in order to experience its own abilities and competences, and in order to create new systems and new experiences on the base of that they have reached to it from the tradition and the inter-generational relationship. Both the processes, as it can be understood, are not absolutely dismissible in the experience of the single subject ".


more affective than in the past. They think that the important is to converse and to construct convincing representations of the world " (Bisi, 1999, 59). This has induced to support the idea of " disarmament of the father " (Witt, 1997, 257). So, the mother, plays the most important role because often finds itself to carry out " traditional paternal functions, must propose models of identification to the sons, that sometimes are competitive with the roles carried out from the father. The mother offers to the adolescent son, that begins to be interested in how to live in society, also her model of employment, to produce yield, to be interested in the public thing " (ibidem, 1997, 255). This has modified in the time the representation of the male and female roles. Besides this the family is often considered like a small group, but " its specificity is that one of being a group with history " (Scabini, 1985, 1995), in which the relationships between the generations are founded. The gender socialization inside of the familiar relations evidences therefore also the temporal dimension of the transmission of styles and expectations between parents and sons. The generation of the parents, in comparison with that one of the sons can bring to light marked differences too, resulting of family histories and the history of the family in a wider sense. The parents today have probably different expectations from those their parents had, and the sons have even more different expectations . This aspect demands a deepening on how, today, the transmission of gender differences happens and how the gender belonging is constructed. In so far as the family is " the historical and symbolic space in which, and starting from which, is unfolded the personal destiny, value, competence, space, division of labour of men and women " (Saraceno, 1988, 11) and of the expectations on the future life and the role of men and women in the society. If such differences seem to diminish on one side, on the other instead, they move on different areas in comparison with the past. Between the sons in fact the sexual difference " produces various models of belongings and continuity " (ibidem, 11), and they are today completely different from those of the previous generations. In past, the families that, until the puberty asked sons and to the daughters the same educational demands, they then tended to differentiate them in the sense to promote the autonomy of the males and the dependency of the females. It was implicit that the boy realized himself although and also against the familiar ties, while the girl had, in some ways, to accept and to conserve them. This difference has always favoured that the young women lived desires of autonomy with guilt senses and desires of independency with intolerance (Baldascini, 1996, Bimbi, 1993). 4. Gender roles in socialisation: resources or challenges? The question arises why should our children not be gender socialised? Gender role stereotypes have some benefits, such as providing a sense of security and facilitating decision-making. However, these stereotypes also bring limited opportunities for both boys and girls (Beal in Witt, 1997). In contrast, androgynous individuals seem to have higher self-esteem (Lundy & Rosenberg; Shaw; Heilbrun in Witt, 1997), higher levels of identity achievement (Orlofsky in Witt, 1997), and more flexibility in dating and love relationships (DeLucia in Witt, 1997). Also, children whose mothers work outside home are not as traditional in sex role orientation as those whose mothers stay at home (Weinraub, Jaeger & Hoffman in Witt, 1997). It has been noted that preschool children whose mothers work outside home acknowledge that they can make choices, which are not hindered by gender (Davies & Banks in Witt, 1997). And as mothers go to work, fathers have to become more active in child rearing, best solution being that both mother and father work outside home and share household duties. This way rigid gender roles are hindered already at home and children learn that there are no specific jobs for different genders, but the options are open for everyone (Morris, 1988, p. 367). But it is not that simple to rear a child in a non-sexist environment. Even if parents would like to bring up a child without buying him or her gender-typed toys, the relatives usually do not respect this wish when giving presents to the child. Otherwise, finding toys that are not gender-typed might be hard, because the society's norm is that girls play with dolls and boys with guns. Even most 13

children's stories show men and women in stereotyped activities. Although nowadays there are storybooks that have girls in non-traditional roles, but boys are still usually shown in the traditional roles (Giddens, 1993, p. 168-169). Otherwise, even if the rigid gender roles would be questioned at home, children are bombarded with contradicting information from various other sources, such as the media and other families (Morris, 1988, p. 367). Stereotypes are assigned to a group or an individual with the intent to categorize that group or individual in either a positive or negative way. Unfortunately, the stereotype is more often negative than positive and is misused (Mio & Awakuni, 1999). An example of a negative stereotype would be classifying an individual as a nigger or saying that they are a loser. An example of a positive stereotype would be classifying an individual as intelligent or wealthy. There are many more stereotypes, but the previous stereotypes are only used to demonstrate what a negative or positive stereotype is like. The negative effects of stereotyping stem from an individuals social reality perspective, which simply means the way this particular individual views the stereotype (Mio & Awakuni, 1999). The individuals view is developed from their conception of the target object; in this case it is the stereotype. Researchers have also linked motivation as an important factor in why, when, and how stereotypes become negative. Social psychologists have discovered that the more a person is disliked, the more evidence is needed to convince the perceiver of the existence of a positive characteristic (Mio & Awakuni, 1999). The same level of convincing applies to positive stereotypes. The more an individual is liked, the harder it is to find evidence linked to negative characteristics. As for the future, the traditional gender roles seem to be changing in respect with all the socialisation agents. It has been suggested that as more mothers leave home for work, they influence the society in a way that girls have higher educational expectations than before (Carter & Wojtkiewicz, 2000). Also it has been noted that gender differences in college majors has declined over time (Jacobs in Carter & Wojtkiewicz, 2000). Nowadays in many schools, the curriculum is not as sexist as it was before. Peer groups at least in late adolescence and early adulthood show more understanding for individuals who deviate from traditional gender roles. Even in the work force the distinction between male-jobs and female-jobs has started to vanish slowly, women can become pilots if they like, and male nurses are not looked at that strangely as before. Finally the media is changing as well, although much of television's broadcast material is still sexist. More stories are made protagonised by a strong female character, such as Disney's Mulan, and some TV-series and sitcoms use the traditional gender roles to be laughed at and to be turned completely around, as in Tim Allen's Home Improvement. As a whole, there is no question whether boys and girls are treated differently since their birth, because they are, and that contributes to how the child feels about his or hers gender in the future. Many times the children also see the people around them acting according to the traditional gender roles, which they observe and imitate, as described by the social learning theory. In addition to that, schools and media pose an image how people of different sexes are supposed to act and peers might reinforce this image. Thus finally the child learns through reinforcement and imitation to act according to the norms he or she is presented, which are often gender stereotypes. In short, the children are socialised to think that there are certain expectations and limitations for both genders. However in the past years there has been slight changes towards a non-sexist environment, at least in the western culture, where children are brought up to believe that their gender should not be a barrier or limitation to any kind of activity or way of life. Some studies have already shown to positive effects of androgynous child rearing, and parents have chosen to bring up their children in a non-sexist environment. Furthermore, as more mothers go to work outside home and fathers start doing duties at home, children will be socialised to think that gender is not a restricting variable for any kind of job or duty. Also media and schools have started to change their attitudes, slowly, but steadily. In conclusion, it could be hypothesised that in the future, the gender stereotypes would hinder as the result of non-sexist child rearing and environments that are favoured today. 14

5. Measuring gender socialization I seek to measure the different dimensions of gender socialization using one of the most reliable British survey data sources, namely, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). The survey began in 1991 as the premier British panel study, and samples around 5,000 households and 10,000 individuals each year. Although some of the original sample members (OSMs) moved out, new members are added each year, including those OSMs who reach 16 years of age by the time of interview and all adult members of the OSMs new household should they leave their original household to form new families. Thus, each year, the sample is appropriately representative of the population as a whole. I have used also the Youth Panel, started in 1994 that considered young people in the sample of the BHPS. I have selected questions that most closely match the gender socialization dimensions (see Appendix). The data in the BHPS allow us to differentiate the dimensions I have illustrated above. As shown in the Appendix, there are eight questions of an ordinal nature for parents gender attitude and two questions for youth. With indicators for traditional gender attitude father and mother, and traditional gender attitude for youth people, some items reflected similar types of organisation that were rarely endorsed and were summed together, with the sum score being treated as a single continuous item. (Figure 1 about here) The analytical framework is shown in Figure 1. We aim to address the following questions. (1) What is the patterns of association between socio-economic conditions and parents gender attitude? (2) What are the direct impacts of parents gender attitude on youth people one, taking into account socio-cultural conditions of the last? The initial problem was to build up a data set containing family data, in the sense of constructing a matrix with father, mother and son for each household. Using Stata5 it has been possible to create a new matrix importing data from various BHPS files6and obtaining a triads file, as shown in table 1 So, at the end I obtained a new file with 717 families with both parents and at least one child. The second step is the identification of variables for the analysis. To have a synthetic measure for gender attitude I decide to construct some indexes in order to use the as numerical variable in multivariate analysis. (Table 1 about here) Gender attitude father, mother and youth I operationalise this dimension by considering how some variables in the data could indicate the traditional/non traditional gender attitude of parents. In the same way a gender attitude index was built also for youth sample. Housework division In order to investigate also the everyday habits of the parents within the families I also built up an index to measure how much the housework division influence the gender opinion of the parents.

5 6

Thanks to dott. Elena Bardasi (ISER Institute) in helping me for this. I used only wave 9 in this study.


6. Path analysis: exploring gender relationships In order to analyse the data, I used path analysis. This technique, is an extension of the multiple regression procedures. In fact, path analysis entails the use of multiple regression in relation to explicitly formulated causal models. Path analysis cannot establish causality; it cannot be used as a substitute for the researcher's views about the likely causal linkages among groups of variables. All it can do is examine the pattern of relationships between three or more variables, but it can neither confirm nor reject the hypothetical causal imagery. The aim of path analysis is to provide quantitative estimates of the causal connections between sets of variables. The connections proceed in one direction and are viewed as making up distinct paths. These ideas can best be explained with reference to the central feature of a path analysis - the path diagram. The path diagram makes explicit the likely causal connections between variables. Path analysis has become a popular technique because it allows the relative impact of variables within a causal network to be estimated. It forces the researcher to make explicit the causal structure that is believed to underpin the variables of interest. On the other hand, it suffers from the problem that it cannot confirm the underlying causal structure. It tells us what the relative impact of the variables upon each other is, but cannot validate that causal structure. Since a cause must precede an effect, the time order of variables must be established in the construction of a path diagram. We are forced to rely on theoretical ideas and our common-sense notions for information about the likely sequence of the variables in the real world. Sometimes these conceptions of time ordering of variables will be faulty and the ensuing path diagram will be misleading. Clearly, while path analysis has much to offer, its potential limitations should also be appreciated. In this chapter, it has only been feasible to cover a limited range of issues in relation to path analysis and the emphasis has been upon the use of examples to illustrate some of the relevant procedures, rather than a formal presentation of the issues7. I will show here an example on the first equation to illustrate the way in which I conducted the path analysis shown in figure 7. The arrows indicate expected causal connections between variables. The model moves from left to right, implying causal priority to those variables closer to the left. Each p denotes a causal path and hence a path coefficient that will need to be computed. The model proposes (as an example) that status father (p9) and mother (p6), age father (p8), housework division (p7) and traditional gender attitude mother (p10) has a direct effect on traditional gender attitude father. Finally e1 point to the fact that there are other variables that have probably an impact on father traditional gender attitude, but which are not included in the path diagram. In order to provide estimates of each of the postulated paths, path coefficients are computed. A path coefficient is a standardised regression coefficient. The path coefficients are computed by setting up three structural equations, that is equations which stipulate the structure of hypothesised relationships in a model. In the case of Figure 3, three structural equations will be required - one for father traditional gender attitude, one for mother and one for youth. The three equations will be: Father gender attitude= x1 father status +x2 mother status+ x3 father age + x4 mother gender attitude+ x5 housework division + e1

Readers who require more detailed treatments should consult Land (1969), Pedhazur (1982) and Davis (1985). 16

Mother gender attitude= x1 father status +x2 mother status+ x3 mother age + x4 father gender attitude + x5 housework division + e2 Youth gender attitude8= x1 father status +x2 mother status+ x3 father gender attitude + x4 mother gender attitude+ x5 youth self-esteem + x6 youth age + e3 The standardised coefficient will provide all the pi values in path analysis. Thus, in order to compute the path coefficients, it is necessary to treat the three equations as multiple-regression equations and the resulting standardised regression coefficients provide the path coefficients. Regression, in the form of multiple regression, is the most widely used method for conducting multivariate analysis, particularly when more than three variables are involved. In Regression is a means of expressing relationships among pairs of variables or to focus on the presence of two or more independent variables. Consider, first of all, a fairly simple case in which there are three variables, that is two independent variables. The nature of the relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variables is expressed in a equation: y= a + b1x1+ b2x2 + b3x3 +e where x1 x2 and x3 are the independent variables, a is the intercept, b1 b2 and b3 are the regression coefficients for the independent variables, and e is an error term which points to the fact that a proportion of the variance in the dependent variable, y, is unexplained by the regression equation. The error term is ignored if it is not used for making predictions. While the ability to make such predictions is of some interest to social scientists. the strength of multiple regression lies primarily in its use as a means of establishing the relative importance of independent variables to the dependent variable. Sometimes our variables derive from different units of measurement and that cannot be directly compared. In order to effect a comparison it is necessary to standardise the units of measurement involved. This can be done by multiplying each regression coefficient by the product of dividing the standard deviation of the relevant independent variable by the standard deviation of the dependent variable. The result is known as a standardised regression coefficient or beta weight. Standardised regression coefficients in a regression equation employ the same standard of measurement and therefore can be compared to determine which of two or more independent variables is the more important in relation to the dependent variable. They essentially tell us by how many standard deviation units the dependent variable will change for a one standard deviation change in the independent variable. Another point is to ensure that the independent variables are not too highly related to each other. You could observe this through the correlation matrix. (Table 2 about here) The Pearson's r between each pair of independent variables should not exceed 0.80; otherwise the independent variables that show a relationship at or in excess of 0.80 may be suspected of exhibiting multicollinearity. Multicollinearity is usually regarded as a problem because it means that the regression coefficients may be unstable. This implies that they are likely to be subject to

Variable sex has been not inserted because the sample will be split during the analysis.


considerable variability from sample to sample. In any case, when two variables are very highly correlated, there seems little point in treating them as separate entities. Multicollinearity can be quite difficult to detect where there are more than two independent variables. but SPSS provides some diagnostic tools that will be examined below in the table of regression coefficients. One of the questions that we may ask is how well the independent variables explain the dependent variable. In just the same way that we were able to use r (the coefficient of determination) as a measure of how well the line of best fit represents the relationship between the two variables, we can compute the multiple coefficient of determination (R2) for the collective effect of all of the independent variables. Another aspect of how well the regression equation fits the data is the standard error of the estimate. This statistic allows the researcher to determine the limits of the confidence that he or she can exhibit in the prediction from a regression equation. A statistic that is used more frequently (and which is also generated in SPSS output) is the standard error of the regression coefficient. The standard error of each regression coefficient reflects on the accuracy of the equation as a whole and of the coefficient itself. If successive similar-sized samples are taken from the population, estimates of each regression coefficient will vary from sample to sample. The standard error of the regression coefficient allows the researcher to determine the band of confidence for each coefficient.

Figure 1 - Path diagram for father gender attitude

Mother Status


Traditional Gender attitude Mo Traditional houserwork division




Age father


Traditional Gender attitude Fa

Father Status 0.09

0.87 e
The traditional gender attitude of father (fig. 1) is strongly influenced by traditional gender attitude of the mother (p= 0.34). Further the more traditional the housework division is the most stereotyped the father is (p=0.16). Status of the father is very little significant (0.09) and even the mother status is more important and has an inverse (-0.12) effect on father gender attitude. In this case for our father sample it is clear how the relationship and the gender attitude of the mother are very important in determining father gender attitude. Even traditional housework 18

division has a direct effect (0.16) on traditional gender attitude. Mother status has a double effect. The direct one (-0.12) and the indirect one9 (0.15) and the total effect of mother status is 0.27 In the end mother status is very significant in its direct and indirect effect.

Figure 2 - Path diagram for mother gender attitude

Mother Status -0.09



Traditional housework division


Traditional Gender attitude Mo




Father Status


Traditional Gender attitude Fa

The traditional gender attitude of mother is strongly influenced by traditional gender attitude of the father (p= 0.36). Further the more traditional the housework division is the most traditional the mother gender attitude is (p=0.14). Status of the mother is very little significant (0.09) as well as the status of the father (0.004) but in the opposite direction. Mother age and status contrast instead the effect within an inverse relationship with mother traditional gender attitude. The younger and the higher status the mother is, the traditional gender attitude is going to diminish. It is clear that father gender attitude has a predominant effect.

Calculated as: -0.12 + (-0.09*0.34) = 0.15


Figure 3 - Path diagram for gender attitude youth only males (N=355)

Traditional Gender attitude Mo

Y Self-esteem

0.16 -0.11

-0.09 -0.18

Mother Status -0.01 Father Status 0.09

Traditional Gender attitude Males

0.18 Young people age


Traditional Gender attitude Fa

The path analysis conducted on young males shows how the traditional gender attitude of parents are the main determinants on youth gender attitude (0.16 mother and 0.18 father) In this case mother status has a very strong inverse direct effect (-0.18) and also a slight indirect effect (-0.09*0.16= - 0.01). Summing up these effects we obtain 0.19 that is the strongest effect on gender attitude of the mother. Interesting the self-esteem strong inverse effect (- 0.11) in contrasting a traditional gender attitude. Also if the age is higher the traditional attitude will diminish (- 0.09).


Figure 4 - Path diagram for gender attitude youth only females (N=362)

Traditional Gender attitude Mo

Y Self-esteem 0.17 -0.13

-0.09 0.01

0.88 e

Mother Status

Traditional Gender attitude Females

-0.18 Father Status 0.09 0.11 Young people age -0.33

Traditional Gender attitude Fa

As for the males parents gender attitudes have a strong effect also for young women (0.17 mother and 0.11 father). So the more traditional the parents are, the more traditional the children will be. Further the interesting aspects is that on females traditional gender attitude is much more influent the status of the father. In fact the direct effect is 0.18 and the indirect effect is 0.01 and the total effect is 0.17. So an higher status is directly a good resource for females because this seems to reduce a traditional gender roles transmission. Instead the total effect of mother status is near to 0 and insignificant. The traditional attitude of the mother is very important on the contrary. Other two aspects are relevant in this analysis: the age and the self-esteem. These two factors have a very strong effect in contrasting traditional gender attitude in females, more than for males. The more self confident and high in age these females are, the less they have a stereotyped attitude towards gender in the family.


5. Provisional conclusion I have, in this paper, try to conceptualising and measuring gender socialization. I have emphasised that the concept of gender socialization can be operationalised in three distinctive ways, as forms of transmission from parents to children, as dependent from personal attitude and resources (self-esteem, age, status), and also from family life (housework gender division). Technically, I have used path analysis models to measure scores of gender attitude dimensions from their categorical/ordinal component variables. First, the paper shows that it is possible to operationalise these different dimensions using the BHPS, and that there is indeed quite good correlation between these types of gender attitude; this implies that family life and relationship are very important and sometimes more important than structural variables. Secondly, if one had to weigh the relative importance between relational and structural factors influencing gender socialization process, the evidence suggests strongly that it is the former rather than the latter that is of greater explanatory power. An interesting further consideration is that cross-gender relationships between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons has emerged as significant in determining traditional/non traditional gender attitude. During adolescence the identification with gender models goes through different relational mechanisms, that foe example in this case stress more the relationship with the opposite gender. The relation with the same gender seems to have a strong reinforcing power on already existing traditional attitude; the relation with the parent of opposite sex instead could be a strong factor in reducing stereotyped attitudes. Probably because gender in the family is a relationship and could assume different features, sometimes a challenge, sometime a resource.


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am grateful to the Catholic University of Milan (Italy) for funding the project Gender socialization within the family: gender and generation in comparison out of which this paper is a product. I am also grateful to Prof. Tim Liao for his precious guide into this work. Thanks to Dott. Elena Bardasi and Dott. Marco Francesconi too, for their support. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Data Archive bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. I am the only one responsible for any errors and mistakes in the paper.


Figure 5 Analytical framework for the interrelationship between socio-demographic attributes, gender attitude parents and gender attitudes youth people.


status mother/father age (parents and youth) gender

Gender attitude youth people (sons and daughters)

Gender attitude parents


Figure 6 Data Matrix for analysis

Child variables

father variables

Mother variables

Var1 CHILD1 CHILD2 CHILD3 CHILD4 CHILD5 ... ... ... ....










Appendix: component variables for gender socialization dimensions

Table 1 - Indexes

BHPS question number (QN) and question wording (QW)10 and origin files (OF) (QN) Father Gender Attitudes (index 1) IOPFAMA IOPFAMB IOPFAMC IOPFAMD IOPFAME IOPFAMF IOPFAMG IOPFAMH IOPFAMI Pre-school child suffers if mother works Family suffers if mother works full-time Woman and family happier if she works Husband and wife should both contribute Full time job makes woman independent Husband should earn, wife stay at home Children need father as much as mother Employers should help with childcare Single parents are as good as couples wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP WINDRESP (QW) (OF)

Mother gender attitude (index 2) IOPFAMA IOPFAMB IOPFAMC IOPFAMD IOPFAME IOPFAMF IOPFAMG IOPFAMH IOPFAMI Pre-school child suffers if mother works Family suffers if mother works full-time Woman and family happier if she works Husband and wife should both contribute Full time job makes woman independent Husband should earn, wife stay at home Children need father as much as mother Employers should help with childcare Single parents are as good as couples wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP

Housework division (Index 3) IHUSITS IHUNURS IHUBUYS IHUFRYS IHUIRON IHUMOPS Who is responsible for childcare Who cares for ill children Who does the grocery shopping (couples) Who does the cooking (couples) Who does the washing/ironing (couples) Who does the cleaning (couples) wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP


The variable names, coding,

frequency and


associated question wording can be found at


Socio-economic Status index (mother and father) IFRVAL IQFEDHI IJBSTATL Last amount received Highest educational qualification Employment status on Sept 1, year ago wINDRESP wINDRESP wINDRESP

Youth Gender attitudes (index 4) IYPOPFF IYPOPFB Husband should earn, wife stay at home Family suffers if women work full-time wYOUTH wYOUTH

Youth Self-esteem (index 5) IYPESTA IYPESTB IYPESTC IYPESTI IYPESTJ IYPESTK IYPESTE IYPESTF I feel I have a number good qualities I certainly feel useless at times I am a likeable person I don't have much to be proud of I am as able as most people I can usually solve my own problems I am inclined to feel I am a failure At times I feel I am no good at all wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH wYOUTH

BHPS coding Our recoding Resulting codes

Father Gender Attitudes12 1=Strongly agree 2=Agree 3=Neither 4=Disagree 5=Strongly disagree Mother gender attitude 1=Strongly agree 2=Agree 3=Neither 4=Disagree 5=Strongly disagree

IOPFMA, IOPFAMB, IOPFAMF 1=5 2=4 3=3 4=2 5=1 IOPFMA, IOPFAMB, IOPFAMF 1=5 2=4 3=3 4=2 5=1

1= Strongly disagree 2= Disagree 3=Neither 4= Agree 5= Strongly agree 1= Strongly disagree 2= Disagree 3=Neither 4= Agree 5= Strongly agree


We use Spss11 for coding the variables and constructing the scores of the dimensions. The new values chose for recoding reflect the decisions regarding all weights in order to represent the explored dimensions. 12 Only variables inverted were recoded.


Housework division 1= mostly self 2= mostly partner 3=shared 1=unconventional Recoding (father answers) 2=traditional 1=mostly self means unconventional gender house work 3=shared division =1 2=mostly partner means traditional gender house work division =5 3=shared means equal division gender house work division =3

1= mostly self 2= mostly partner 3=shared

Recoding (mother answers) 1=mostly self means traditional house work division =5 3=shared means equal division house work division =3 2=mostly partner means unconventional house work division =1 1=5 2=4 3=3 4=2 5=1 PESTA, YPESTK 1=4 2=3 3=2 4=1 YPESTC,

1= traditional 2= unconventional 3=shared

Youth Gender attitudes 1=Strongly agree 2=Agree 3=Neither 4=Disagree 5=Strongly disagree Youth Self-esteem 1=Strongly agree 2=Agree 3= Disagree 4= Strongly disagree

5=Strongly agree 4=Agree 3=Neither 2=Disagree 1=Strongly disagree YPESTJ, 1= Strongly disagree 2= Disagree 3= Agree 4= Strongly agree


Table 2 Partial Correlations of independent variables

traditonal gender attitude mother 1,000 , 693 ,400** ,000 602 ,039 ,333 607 -,122** ,001 689 ,239** ,000 689 ,041 ,281 693 ,018 ,628 693 ,046 ,230 693 -,083* ,030 693 ,001 ,980 693 traditonalgende r attitude father ,400** ,000 602 1,000 , 617 ,078 ,053 616 -,117** ,004 602 ,257** ,000 615 ,144** ,000 617 ,106** ,008 617 ,023 ,569 617 -,011 ,784 617 -,014 ,727 617 status mother -,122** ,001 689 -,117** ,004 602 ,409** ,000 609 1,000 , 696 -,036 ,342 692 ,059 ,117 696 ,141** ,000 696 ,142** ,000 696 ,030 ,432 696 -,106** ,005 696 traditional homework division ,239** ,000 689 ,257** ,000 615 ,123** ,002 622 -,036 ,342 692 1,000 , 706 ,008 ,833 706 ,102** ,007 706 ,002 ,967 706 ,003 ,934 706 -,010 ,796 706

traditional gender attitude mother traditional gender attitude father status father

status mother

Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N Pearson Correlation Sig. (2-tailed) N

status father ,039 ,333 607 ,078 ,053 616 1,000 , 624 ,409** ,000 609 ,123** ,002 622 ,006 ,891 624 ,214** ,000 624 ,068 ,091 624 ,010 ,811 624 -,109** ,006 624

age father ,041 ,281 693 ,144** ,000 617 ,006 ,891 624 ,059 ,117 696 ,008 ,833 706 1,000 , 717 ,674** ,000 717 -,038 ,313 717 ,191** ,000 717 ,079* ,034 717

age mother ,018 ,628 693 ,106** ,008 617 ,214** ,000 624 ,141** ,000 696 ,102** ,007 706 ,674** ,000 717 1,000 , 717 ,003 ,930 717 ,255** ,000 717 ,041 ,274 717

youth self-esteem ,046 ,230 693 ,023 ,569 617 ,068 ,091 624 ,142** ,000 696 ,002 ,967 706 -,038 ,313 717 ,003 ,930 717 1,000 , 717 ,054 ,149 717 -,150** ,000 717

youth age -,083* ,030 693 -,011 ,784 617 ,010 ,811 624 ,030 ,432 696 ,003 ,934 706 ,191** ,000 717 ,255** ,000 717 ,054 ,149 717 1,000 , 717 -,035 ,347 717

Y_FEMALE ,001 ,980 693 -,014 ,727 617 -,109** ,006 624 -,106** ,005 696 -,010 ,796 706 ,079* ,034 717 ,041 ,274 717 -,150** ,000 717 -,035 ,347 717 1,000 , 717

traditional homework division age father

age mother

youth self-esteem

youth age


**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


Figure 7 - Path diagram for gender socialization within the family

p11 Y Self-esteem p17

Mother Status p1

p12 M_Age p2 p3

Gender attitude Mother

p4 p10 p6 p7 p5



traditional housework division

Gender attitude (Youth)

p18 p14 p16 p15 p8 Father Status Young people sex Age father Young people age

Gender attitude Father




Table 3 Regression coefficients of Father Gender attitude Unstandardized Coefficients Model (Constant) status father status mother age father gender attitude mother division homework R =0.23 1 Standardised scores are used in this and all tables below. 2 * p<0.05, ** p<0.01 and *** p<0.001; the same below.

Standardized Coefficients Beta

t 6,119

Sig. ,000 ,032 ,003 ,000 ,000 ,000

Collinearity Statistics Tolerance VIF

B 1,214 2,302E-02 -3,318E-02 1,275E-02 ,341 ,113

Std. Error ,198 ,011 ,011 ,003 ,037 ,027

,086* -,122** ,147*** ,344*** ,158***

2,153 -3,032 4,041 9,097 4,207

,822 ,817 ,992 ,925 ,931

1,216 1,224 1,008 1,081 1,074

Table 4 Regression Coefficients of Mother gender attitude Unstandardized Coefficients Model (Constant) status father status mother age mother gender attitude father division homework R2= 0.19 B 1,724 1,049E-02 -2,389E-02 -4,472E-03 ,361 ,102 Std. Error ,207 ,011 ,011 ,004 ,039 ,028 ,039 -,087* -,041 ,358*** ,143*** Standardized Coefficients Beta 8,348 ,944 -2,107 -1,074 9,193 3,701 ,000 ,345 ,036 ,283 ,000 ,000 ,807 ,806 ,927 ,904 ,920 1,240 1,241 1,078 1,106 1,087 Collinearity Statistics Tolerance VIF



Table 5 Regression coefficients of youth gender attitude (only males) Unstandardized Coefficients Model (Constant) status father status mother gender attitude father gender attitude mother youth self-esteem cont youth age R =0.20

Standardized Coefficients Beta


Collinearity Statistics Tolerance VIF

B 3,715 -7,193E-03 -,141 ,534 ,450 -,229 -,109

Std. Error 1,225 ,047 ,046 ,178 ,163 ,117 ,067

3,032 -,009 -,184** ,176** ,162** -,110* -,090 -,152 -3,086 2,997 2,768 -1,954 -1,609

,003 ,879 ,002 ,003 ,006 ,052 ,109 ,870 ,831 ,856 ,854 ,928 ,950 1,150 1,204 1,168 1,171 1,078 1,053

Table 6 Regression coefficients of youth gender attitude (only females) Unstandardized Coefficients Model (Constant) status father status mother gender attitude father gender attitude mother youth self-esteem youth age R = 0.22

Standardized Coefficients Beta


Collinearity Statistics Tolerance VIF

B 7,502 -,127 4,960E-03 ,297 ,473 -,228 -,378

Std. Error 1,181 ,041 ,045 ,153 ,165 ,096 ,060

6,351 -,181** ,007 ,114 ,168** -,125* -,331*** -3,098 ,110 1,939 2,858 -2,386 -6,331

,000 ,002 ,913 ,053 ,005 ,018 ,000 ,784 ,751 ,772 ,769 ,978 ,978 1,275 1,332 1,295 1,301 1,023 1,022