Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 5–6, pp 423–438 | Cite as

A Critical Examination of the Reliability and Validity of a Gender Role Attitude Scale in Flanders (Belgium): What Lessons Can be Learned?

  • Myriam Halimi
  • Els Consuegra
  • Katrien Struyven
  • Nadine Engels
Original Article


Western societies have shifted toward more egalitarian gender role attitudes (GRA). Quantitative research on GRA has been critiqued for not having kept up with societal changes in GRA. GRA scales are claimed to lack discriminative power and not fully capture the diversity within non-traditional attitudes. The present study gives an overview of the theoretical critiques with regard to GRA scales and empirically assesses these critiques. A typical example of a GRA scale measuring adolescents’ GRA in Flanders (Belgium) is used to test the scale’s quality across three waves of surveys completed by 4063 early secondary school students. Our analysis identifies the drawbacks of this particular scale. First, a ceiling effect was found, with most respondents being egalitarian. Second, the representativeness of roles inquired about is restricted; relevant societal domains are not questioned and most roles are only questioned for one gender. Third, a gender-binary approach is dominant. Finally, our results confirm that adolescents demonstrate ambivalent feelings toward balancing female employment and motherhood; although paid employment is encouraged, childcare is prioritized. We recommend that other researchers critically examine the usability and quality of GRA scales in today’s society. Using outdated GRA scales might conceal the ambivalence that adolescents feel due to new gender inequities. Also, investing in structures and regulations supporting the work-family balance is key in further promoting gender equity.


Adolescent Attitudes Gender equality Measurement Gender role Attitudes Psychometrics Work-life balance 



The present study was made possible through funding of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO; Grant number FWOTM773) and the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (Grant number IWT110020, Procrustes Project). We would like to thank all participants and schools that participated in the Procrustes Project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

We affirm the manuscript is original and has not been published or submitted elsewhere. All authors approve potential publication.

Schools participated voluntarily in the research study and were asked to hand over a letter to the parents informing them on their child's participation on the project. The letter included the nature of the study, the goals and data collection. The parents had the possibility to decline their child's participation. Only in 1 case parents refused child's participation. In this case, the student did not participate in any of the research phases. Participating schools, teachers and students were assigned a unique identification code in order to process and analyse data anonymously.

The authors have read the ethical requirements of Sex Roles and confirm that none of the requirements is violated.

Conflict of Interest

There were no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_807_MOESM1_ESM.docx (42 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 41 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teacher Education DepartmentVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium
  2. 2.Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality (RHEA)Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium
  3. 3.Educational Sciences DepartmentVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium

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