Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 12, pp 2041–2053 | Cite as

Mexican–American Adolescents’ Gender Role Attitude Development: The Role of Adolescents’ Gender and Nativity and Parents’ Gender Role Attitudes

  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
  • Susan M. McHale
  • Katharine H. Zeiders
  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
  • Norma J. Perez-Brena
  • Lorey A. Wheeler
  • Sue A. Rodríguez De Jesús
Empirical Research


Gender development has long term implications for education and career endeavors and family formation behaviors, but we know very little about the role of sociocultural factors in developmental and individual differences. In this study, we investigated one domain of gender development, gender role attitudes, in Mexican–American adolescents (N = 246; 51 % female), using four phases of longitudinal data across 8 years. Data were collected when adolescents averaged 12.51 years (SD = 0.58), 14.64 years (SD = 0.59), 17.72 years (SD = 0.57), and 19.60 years of age (SD = 0.66). Mothers’ and fathers’ gender role attitudes also were assessed in Phases 1, 3, and 4. Findings revealed that gender attitude development varied as a function of the interaction between adolescents’ nativity and gender. Among Mexico-born adolescents, females exhibited significant declines in traditional attitudes from early to late adolescence, but males’ attitudes were stable over time. U.S.-born females and males, in contrast, did not differ in their gender attitude trajectories. Examining the links between mothers’, fathers’, and adolescents’ gender role attitudes revealed within-person associations between mothers’ and adolescents’ gender role attitudes: on occasions when mothers reported more traditional attitudes relative to their own cross-time average, adolescents also reported more traditional attitudes than usual. In addition, fathers’ more traditional gender role attitudes were associated with daughters’, but not sons’, more traditional gender role attitudes at the between-person level. The discussion focuses on the interpretation of Mexican–American adolescents’ gender role attitude development from a cultural ecological perspective.


Adolescence Gender role attitudes Mexican–American Mothers and fathers Longitudinal Sociocultural context 



We are grateful to the families and youth who participated in this project, and to the following schools and districts who collaborated: Osborn, Mesa, and Gilbert school districts, Willis Junior High School, Supai and Ingleside Middle Schools, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Gregory, St. Francis Xavier, St. Mary-Basha, and St. John Bosco. We thank Ann Crouter, Mark Roosa, Nancy Gonzales, Roger Millsap, Jennifer Kennedy, Leticia Gelhard, Melissa Delgado, Emily Cansler, Shawna Thayer, Devon Hageman, Ji-Yeon Kim, Lilly Shanahan, Chun Bun Lam, Megan Baril, Anna Solmeyer, and Shawn Whiteman for their assistance in conducting this investigation. Funding was provided by NICHD grants R01HD39666 (Kimberly A. Updegraff, PI) and R01-HD32336 (Ann C. Crouter & Susan M. McHale, Co-PIs) and by the Cowden Fund to the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU.

Author contributions

KU participated in the study’s conception, design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript. SM participated in the study’s conception, design and coordination, and helped draft the manuscript. KZ performed the analyses, interpreted the data, and helped draft the manuscript. AU participated in the study’s conception, design and coordination, and provided feedback on the manuscript. LW participated in the study’s coordination, assisted with the analyses and interpretation of the data, and provided feedback on the manuscript. NP participated in the study’s coordination, helped with the interpretation of the data and provided feedback. SR participated in the study’s coordination, helped with the interpretation of data and provided feedback. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
    • 1
  • Susan M. McHale
    • 2
  • Katharine H. Zeiders
    • 1
  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
    • 1
  • Norma J. Perez-Brena
    • 1
  • Lorey A. Wheeler
    • 1
  • Sue A. Rodríguez De Jesús
    • 1
  1. 1.T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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