Conforming to Male and Female Gender Norms: A Characterisation of Australian University Students

Abstract

The examination of conformity to social gender norms provides one approach that researchers may adopt to explore gendered selves and the influence of the gendered self in a range of contexts. Two measures that are often used to describe conformity to feminine and masculine social gender norms are the Conformity to Feminine Norms-45 and Conformity to Masculine Norms-46. However, the recommended structure of these instruments is inconsistent amongst the literature. Using Rasch modelling, the current study examines the psychometric properties of these instruments based on responses of both female and male Australian undergraduate university students. A total of 602 participants completed both instruments and the responses analysed to ensure the utility of each instrument to measure conformity to gender norms in the Australian context. An analysis of the transformed responses showed that both females and males show variability in their conformity to both feminine and masculine gender norms. However, differential item functioning showed that females and males differed in their understanding of items from the male and female forms of the inventory, respectively. The results are discussed in terms of the usefulness of each instrument to explain choices and action.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. 1.

    Aldenderfer, M. S., & Blashfield, R. K. (1984). Quantitative applications in the social sciences: Cluster Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412983648

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    American Psychological Association. (2015). APA dictionary of psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: APA.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Andrich, D. (1999). Rating scale analysis. In G. N. Masters & J. P. Keeves (Eds.), Advances in measurement in educational research and assessment (pp. 85–97). Oxford: Elsevier Science.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42(2), 155–162. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0036215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88(4), 354–364. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.88.4.354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Beutel, A. M., Burge, S. W., & Borden, B. A. (2018). Femininity and choice of college major. Gender Issues, 35(2), 113–136. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-017-9195-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Beutel, A. M., Burge, S. W., & Borden, B. A. (2019). Masculinity and men’s choice of college major. Gender Issues. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-019-09236-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Bond, T. G., & Fox, C. M. (2015). Applying the Rasch model: Fundamental measurement in the human sciences (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Butler, J. (2004). Undoing gender. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Cano, A. G., Martínez, C. M., Bleda, C. P., & Parent, M. C. (2017). Adaptación al español del Inventario de Conformidad con las Normas de Género Femeninas-45. Uaricha, 14(32), 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Chambers, S. K., Hyde, M. K., Oliffe, J. L., Zajdlewicz, L., Lowe, A., Wootten, A. C., et al. (2016). Measuring masculinity in the context of chronic disease. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17(3), 228–242. https://doi.org/10.1037/men0000018.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Chatfield, C., & Collins, A. J. (1980). Introduction to multivariate analysis. London: Chapman & Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Cialdini, R. B., & Goldstein, N. J. (2004). Social influence: Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 591–621.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Cialdini, R. B., & Trost, M. R. (1998). Social influence: Social norms, conformity, and compliance. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 151–192). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Clatworthy, J., Buick, D., Hankins, M., Weinman, J., & Horne, R. (2005). The use and reporting of cluster analysis in health psychology: A review. British Journal of Health Psychology, 10(3), 329–358.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    De Beauvoir, S. (1997). The second sex. London: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    De Vaus, D. (2002). Surveys in social research (5th ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    DiDonato, L., & Strough, J. (2013). Do college students’ gender-typed attitudes about occupations predict their real-world decisions? Sex Roles, 68(9–10), 536–549.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Eccles, J. S. (2011). Gendered educational and occupational choices: Applying the Eccles' et al. model of achievement-related choices. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 35(3), 195–201. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025411398185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Epstein, C. F. (1997). The multiple realities of sameness and difference: Ideology and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 53(2), 259–277. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02443.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Fox, J., & Tang, W. Y. (2014). Sexism in online video games: The role of conformity to masculine norms and social dominance orientation. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 314–320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.07.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Franko, D. L., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., Rodgers, R. F., Holmqvist Gattario, K., Frisén, A., Diedrichs, P. C., Shingleton, R. M. (2015). Internalization as a mediator of the relationship between conformity to masculine norms and body image attitudes and behaviors among young men in Sweden, US, UK, and Australia. Body Image, 15, 54–60https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.05.002

  23. 23.

    Gattario, K. H., Frisén, A., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., Ricciardelli, L. A., Diedrichs, P. C., Yager, Z., et al. (2015). How is men’s conformity to masculine norms related to their body image? Masculinity and muscularity across Western countries. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(3), 337–347https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038494

  24. 24.

    Griffiths, S., Murray, S. B., & Touyz, S. (2015). Extending the masculinity hypothesis: An investigation of gender role conformity, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating in young heterosexual men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(1), 108–114. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035958.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Hammer, J. H., Heath, P. J., & Vogel, D. L. (2018). Fate of the total score: Dimensionality of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-46 (CMNI-46). Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 19(4), 645–651. https://doi.org/10.1037/men0000147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Hayley, A., Cox, E., Zinkiewicz, L., Graham, K., Wells, S., Zhou, J., et al. (2017). Barroom aggression perpetration by Australian women: Associations with heavy episodic drinking, trait aggression, and conformity to gender norms. Journal of Substance Use. https://doi.org/10.1080/14659891.2016.1271040.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Hsu, K., & Iwamoto, D. K. (2014). Testing for measurement invariance in the conformity to masculine norms-46 across white and Asian American college men: Development and validity of the CMNI-29. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 15(4), 397–406. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Iwamoto, D. K., Cheng, A., Lee, C. S., Takamatsu, S., & Gordon, D. (2011). “Man-ing” up and getting drunk: The role of masculine norms, alcohol intoxication and alcohol-related problems among college men. Addictive Behaviors, 36(9), 906–911.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Kaya, A., Iwamoto, D. K., Grivel, M., Clinton, L., & Brady, J. (2016). The role of feminine and masculine norms in college women's alcohol use. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 17(2), 206–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Kling, J., Holmqvist Gattario, K., & Frisén, A. (2017). Swedish women's perceptions of and conformity to feminine norms. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58(3), 238–248. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12361.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Levant, R. F., Hall, R. J., Weigold, I. K., & McCurdy, E. R. (2015). Construct distinctiveness and variance composition of multi-dimensional instruments: Three short-form masculinity measures. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(3), 488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Linacre, J. M. (1999). Investigating rating scale category utility. Journal of Outcome Measurement, 3(2), 103–122.

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Linacre, J. M. (2002). Optimizing rating scale category effectiveness. Journal of Applied Measurement, 3(1), 85–106.

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Linacre, J. M. (2017). Winsteps®Rasch measurement computer program User's Guide. Beaverton, OR: Winsteps.com.

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Linacre, J. M. (2017). Winsteps® Rasch measurement computer program. Beaverton, OR: Winsteps.com.

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Linacre, J. M., & Wright, B. D. (1994). Reasonable mean-square fit values. Rasch Measurement Transactions, 8(3), 370.

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Lyócsa, I., Bašistová, A., & Lyócsa, S. (2013). Conformity to feminine norms and religiousness: A study of helping professionals in Slovakia. The British Journal of Social Work, 45(4), 1172–1189. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Lyócsa, I., & Lyócsa, S. (2013). Confirmatory factor analysis of the abbreviated Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory. Social Work Research, 37(4), 414–422. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/svt034.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Mahalik, J. R., Locke, B. D., Ludlow, L. H., Diemer, M. A., Scott, R. P., Gottfried, M., et al. (2003). Development of the conformity to masculine norms inventory. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4(1), 3–25. https://doi.org/10.1037/1524-9220.4.1.3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Mahalik, J. R., Morray, E. B., Coonerty-Femiano, A., Ludlow, L. H., Slattery, S. M., & Smiler, A. (2005). Development of the conformity to feminine norms inventory. Sex Roles, 52(7–8), 417–435. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-005-3709.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Miller, P., Wells, S., Hobbs, R., Zinkiewicz, L., Curtis, A., & Graham, K. (2014). Alcohol, masculinity, honour and male barroom aggression in an Australian sample. Drug and Alcohol Review, 33(2), 136–143. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.12114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Miller, P., Zinkiewicz, L., Hayley, A., Sonderlund, A., Litherland, S., Medew-Ewen, T., …, Graham, K. (2016). Barroom aggression among Australian men: Associations with heavy episodic drinking, conformity to masculine norms, and personal and perceived peer approval of barroom aggression. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77(3), 421-430https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.421

  43. 43.

    Parent, M. C., & Moradi, B. (2009). Confirmatory factor analysis of the conformity to masculine norms inventory and development of the conformity to masculine norms inventory-46. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10(3), 175–189. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Parent, M. C., & Moradi, B. (2010). Confirmatory factor analysis of the conformity to feminine norms inventory and the development of an abbreviated version: The CFNI-45. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 97–109. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2009.01545.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Parent, M. C., & Moradi, B. (2011). An abbreviated tool for assessing conformity to masculine norms: Psychometric properties of the conformity to masculine norms inventory-46. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 12(4), 339.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Parent, M. C., & Moradi, B. (2011). An abbreviated tool for assessing feminine norm conformity: Psychometric properties of the conformity to feminine norms inventory-45. Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 958–969. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024082.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Parent, M. C., Moradi, B., Rummell, C. M., & Tokar, D. M. (2011). Evidence of construct distinctiveness for conformity to masculine norms. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 12, 354–367. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023837.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Parent, M. C., Kalenkoski, C. M., & Cardella, E. (2018). Risky business: Precarious manhood and investment portfolio decisions. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 19(2), 195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Parent, M. C., & Smiler, A. P. (2013). Metric invariance of the conformity to masculine norms inventory-46 among women and men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(3), 324–328. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027642.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Pulerwitz, J., Blum, R., Cislaghi, B., Costenbader, E., Harper, C., Heise, L., …, Lundgren, R. (2019). Proposing a conceptual framework to address social norms that influence adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64(4), S7–S9https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.01.014

  51. 51.

    Risman, B. J. (2018). Where the millennials will take us: A new generation wrestles with the gender structure. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Rochelle, T. L., & Yim, K. H. (2015). Assessing the factor structure of the Chinese conformity to masculine norms inventory. The Journal of Psychology, 149(1), 29–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2013.837023.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Smiler, A. P., & Epstein, M. (2010). Measuring gender: Options and issues. In J. C. Chrisler & D. R. McCreary (Eds.), Handbook of gender research in psychology (pp. 133–157). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Spence, J. T. (1985). Gender identity and its implications for the concepts of masculinity and femininity. In T. B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation: Psychology and gender (Vol. 32, pp. 59–96). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R., & Stapp, J. (1975). Ratings of self and peers on sex role attributes and their relation to self-esteem and conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32(1), 29–39. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076857.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Thompson, E. H., & Bennett, K. (2015). Measurement of masculinity ideologies: A (critical) review. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16, 115–133. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038609.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Thompson, E. H., Jr., & Pleck, J. H. (1986). The structure of male role norms. American Behavioral Scientist, 29(5), 531–543.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & Society, 1(2), 125–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Whitehead, J. M. (1996). Sex stereotypes, gender identity and subject choice at A-level. Educational Research, 38(2), 147–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kate Lafferty.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee, Project ID 5803) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lafferty, K., Phillipson, S.N. & Jacobs, K. Conforming to Male and Female Gender Norms: A Characterisation of Australian University Students. Gend. Issues 38, 79–99 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-020-09259-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Femininity
  • Gender norms
  • Masculinity
  • Measurement
  • Rasch