Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Gender Differences in Gender-Role Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of Taiwan and Coastal China*

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Gender Differences in Gender-Role Attitudes: A Comparative Analysis of Taiwan and Coastal China*

Article excerpt

Previous studies have demonstrated that women are more likely than men to support egalitarian gender-role attitudes (Brewster and Padavic 2000; Katsurada and Sugihara 1999; Mason and Lu 1988; Rice and Coates 1995; Wilson and Smith 1995) While considerable attention has been paid to country differences in gender-role attitudes associated with women's - especially married women's - employment at the individual and societal levels, the industrialization hypothesis used in the previous studies has, however, yielded inconsistent results (Haller and Hoellinger 1994; Alwin. Braun, and Scott 1992; Baxter and Kane 1995; Crompton and Harris 1997; Hsieh and Burgess 1994; Panayotova and Brayfield 1997; Scott and Duncombe 1992). Several issues have remained unexplored. The first is a theoretical explanation for attitudinal gender differences varying by society when considering non-economic social forces, such as social-political ideology, national policy, and other institutional forces. The second is the extent to which factors corresponding to gender socialization at the individual, familial, and societal levels structure female and male attitudes differently. The third is national comparison focusing on non-Western populations; previously, attention has focused on Western societies.

Furthermore, in order to measure a single concept or attitude, unidimensional scale development and factor analysis have been used to construct gender-role attitudes by assigning interval scores to ordinal response categories. Such research strategies tend to overlook the intertwining of traditional and modern attitudes (Scott and Duncombe 1992), as well as heterogeneity in patterns of responses to attitudinal items due to uncertainty about whether the assigned score is attached to each response category. This practice has compromised some studies using low reliable attitudinal scales (e.g., Cronbach's Alpha less than 0.6) (Mason and Lu 1988). On the other hand, Latent Class Analysis, which identifies distinct patterns within a set of attitudinal items, can avoid that methodological dilemma.

In order to fill the gap in the literature, this article aims to examine gender difference in gender-role attitudes by comparing two non-Western societies with the same cultural origin: China and Taiwan. More explicitly, we attempt to answer four questions: Is there gender difference in the diversity in gender-role attitudes, using Latent Class Analysis? Does the gender difference in gender-role attitudes differ by society? Do the determinants of the derived attitude types differ by gender? To what extent does the gender difference in the determinants differ by society?

GENDERED SELF-INTEREST: self-actualization vs. economic necessity

From the perspective of exchange theory, economic and human resources are important forces related to one's self-interest, and they are associated with a person's gender-role attitudes (Panayotova and Brayfield 1997). Self-interest, motivated by a drive for self-actualization and/or economic necessity, may differ by gender. Women's views of self-interest often relate to lessening the burden of their full-time jobs (family work and paid work) and increasing their own human and economic resources. Men's views of self-interest, in contrast, are likely to support family economic needs only if women's traditional duties (domestic work and childbearing responsibilities) and men's role as primary breadwinner are not disrupted (Baxter and Kane 1995; Scott and Duncombe 1992).

Education, employment status, and income are important factors likely to lead women, but not necessarily men, to endorse egalitarian attitudes. While education and employment status were consistently found to contribute to egalitarian attitudes, such positive effects were more significant for women than for men. Gender difference in the effect of employment was especially significant in societies where employment is the overwhelming norm for men (Baxter and Kane 1995; Panayotova and Brayfield 1997; Yi and Kao 1986). …

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