Gender Role Identity among Korean and American College Students: Links to Gender and Academic Achievement

By Shin, Kyoung Ho; Yang, Jang Ae et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Gender Role Identity among Korean and American College Students: Links to Gender and Academic Achievement


Shin, Kyoung Ho, Yang, Jang Ae, Edwards, Carla E., Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Although culture exerts significant influence on the gender role identity development of an individual, and measuring the gender role identity across cultural settings is important (Adler, 1993; Harris, 1994), few researchers have examined it in the context of cultural differences (Maccoby, 1988; Zhang, Norvilitis, & Jin, 2001). In this study the complex relationships between gender role identity (androgyny, masculinity, and femininity), gender, and academic achievement of Korean and American college students were explored.

Since Bem (1974) developed the Bem Sex Role Inventory, researchers have explored gender roles in terms of traditional masculine, feminine, and androgynous roles (Ballard-Reisch & Elton, 1992; Bem, 1977; Ward, 2000). As the scope of the research was extended, the Bem Sex Role Inventory was adapted for culturally different societies (e.g., the Korean Sex Role Inventory, Jeong, 1990; Japanese Sex Role Inventory, Katsurada & Sugihara, 1999; Singapore Androgyny Inventory, Ward, 2000). These measures have allowed some exploration of international cultural norms related to gender role identity. For example, male Korean college students are more traditional than women in sex role attitudes (Oh & Park, 2006; Tomeh, 1981). Ravinder (1987) found that androgyny is predominant in India, especially among males, while Australian society includes more gender role transcendence. Shukla and Kapoor (1990) reported that American and Indian upper middle-class families are similar in decision-making power, marital satisfaction, and sex role identity.

Androgyny has been linked to higher academic performance in homogenous cultural groups (Choi, 2004; Heilbrun & Han, 1984; Markstrom-Adams & Adams, 1995). Choi found that individuals high in androgyny or masculinity had higher academic efficacy. Earlier research by Heilbrun and Han established a link between androgyny in female students and higher academic achievement, but not in males. Results of studies revealed that cultural changes, and social cognitive factors are likely to play a mediating role between sex identity and achievement (Brown, Garavalia, Fritts, & Olson, 2006; Hong & Rust, 1989; Oh, 2003). However, understanding of the academic achievement of males and females related to gender role identity has not been studied via a cross- cultural approach. Considering the current state of the literature, in this study an attempt was made to compare two societies, Korean and American, in terms of the following hypothetical questions:

(1) Are there variations in gender role identity in Korean students and American college students?

(2) Are there variations in gender role identity by gender and socioeconomic status?

(3) How differently does gender role identity predict academic achievements in two societies?

METHOD

Participants and Procedures

Of the 401 college students participating in this study, 228 (56.9%) were Korean students (108 males and 120 females) and 173 (43.1%) were American students (107 males and 66 females). The students in this convenience sample were selected from sociology classes in 2003 in two universities of Korea, one located in Kyunggi-Do and the other in Seoul, and for the American sample in 2004, from one university in Kansas and the other in Missouri. In each country we selected two universities which are comprehensive and teaching-oriented respectively. After attending a session to introduce them to this study, students were asked to respond to the survey questionnaire.

Measures

Scores for the American College Testing examination and Soo Neung (Korean College Scholastic Test) examination respectively were self-reported. These two tests are used for higher education placement and are based on similar constructs. For the measurement of gender role identity, the American sample completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974).

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