Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Moderating Effects of Age and Education on Gender Differences on Gender Role Perceptions

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

The Moderating Effects of Age and Education on Gender Differences on Gender Role Perceptions

Article excerpt


Individual differences in gender role perceptions have been described copiously in the psychological literature. The effects of education and gender have been established crossculturally. The joint effects of education and gender have not however been discussed adequately, especially among African populations where there are strong expectations of these effects. In the current study, we explored these known effects among a heterogeneous urban population. Four hundred and seventy-six (476) respondents made up of high and low education groups were selected for this study. We examined the extent to which men and women will adopt traditional/egalitarian gender role attitudes and if age and education moderate established gender differences in gender role attitudes using Williams and Best's (1990) traditional and modern gender role scale. We found differences on traditional gender role perceptions based on education. We also found that while there was no gender difference on the traditional component, education seemed to minimise females' perceptions of traditional roles but not males. We did observe that both females and young adults endorsed more modern perceptions of gender roles. The results seemed to support the notion that males are less likely to change from socialisation practices that encourage male hegemony. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Key words: Educational effects, gender differences, gender role perception, Ghana.


In every society there are prescribed roles for men and women and this has been discussed variously in the literature as gender role specifications. Over the years however these roles have changed and attitude towards the roles have also changed. Different factors account for these changes which may depend largely on both personal and societal factors. In this study, we explored some of these factors within a largely traditional society that in itself is undergoing significant geopolitical and sociocultural changes.

Attitudes towards men and women's role in society have been referred to as gender/ sex role ideology or perception (Hochschild, 1989). Williams and Best (1990) defined it as one's beliefs regarding the proper roles for men and women which may be characterised as existing along a continuum from traditional to modern. Those who hold traditional gender role ideology believe that men's and women's spheres of work are different such that men's sphere is paid work while women's sphere is home (Hochschild, 1989; Levant, Richmond, Majors, Inclan, Rosello et al., 2003).

On the other hand a modern sex role ideology discards the idea that there are distinctions between male and female roles and believes in gender equality and flexibility (Barry & Beitel, 2006). Egalitarian attitudes or modern gender role ideology maintain that power and roles are distributed equally between men and women and that women identify equally with the same spheres (Barry & Beitel, 2006; Hochschild, 1989). However, it is argued that most people have attitudes that lie between traditional and egalitarian ideologies (Hochschild, 1989). This led to the identification of a third gender role ideology, known as the transitional gender role ideology. According to this ideology, women can devote time to both work and family domains, but should hold proportionally more responsibility for the home while men focus more of their energy on work.

Many factors have been researched over the years to examine their influence on gender role ideology. Gender, age and education are the most frequently researched factors in gender role ideology (Barry & Beitel, 2006; Chang, 1999; Robinson-Awana, Kehle & Jenson, 1986; Whitley, 1983). In this study, we explored the known associations between these factors and gender role perception and as well, explored the less researched simultaneous or joint associations between these factors and gender role perception. The differences in perception on gender role ideology between males and females have been documented copiously in the literature (e. …

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