Pros and Cons of Gender Research and Technology Questions Answer each question in 100 words. References attached.
1. What Would You Research?
If you were to begin a research program that focused on gender issues, what topic would you select to study and why?
2. Research and Technology
How do you think smartphones and other mobile electronic devices will change psychological research? What are their promises for the field? And what are their pitfalls?
3. Research Challenges
What challenges do you see that daily-life researchers may face in their studies? How can they be overcome?
4. Research and Validity
What do you think about the trade off between unambiguously establishing cause and effect (internal validity) and ensuring that research findings apply to people’s everyday lives (external validity)? Which one of these would you prioritize as a researcher? Why?
In your opinion, can heterosexual men and women be “just friends” or does romantic interest usually interfere? What has been your experience?
6. Pros and Cons of Gender
Is it better to be a girl or a boy? Think about what it would be like if you were to wake up as the opposite gender and how your life would change. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each gender.
7. Risky Business
It’s pretty well documented that men engage in more risky behaviors than women. What are some of those risky behaviors and why do men engage in them?
8. Gender and Health
Do you think public health should be concerned about sex and/or gender in relation to health? Why or why not?
9. Battered Men?
Some research indicates that men are more likely to be victims of certain forms of domestic violence or abuse than women. Why does this surprise people? What can be done to prevent or decrease domestic violence?
10. Gender Aschematic
Is it possible to raise children as gender aschematic?
11. Male Victims?
Some experts argue that men can be victims of sexism also. Do you think this is a significant problem in our society? Why or why not? Fully explain your opinion. Handbook of Work Stress
Contributors: Serge Desmarais & Christine Alksnis
Edited by: Julian Barling, E. Kevin Kelloway & Michael R. Frone
Book Title: Handbook of Work Stress
Chapter Title: “Gender Issues”
Pub. Date: 2005
Access Date: May 26, 2019
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.
City: Thousand Oaks
Print ISBN: 9780761929499
Online ISBN: 9781412975995
Print pages: 455-486
© 2005 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online
version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
© 2005 by Sage Publications, Inc.
Popular stereotypes convey fundamental differences in the way men and women feel, think, act, and relate to
others. These gendered differences are assumed to exist in all social spheres, including work and family life.
Yet the life circumstances of most women and men have changed dramatically over the past few decades,
with evidence of greater similarity (Barnett & Hyde, 2001). We can attribute much of this shift to women’s increasing entry into the paid workforce (Davidson & Burke, 2000; Reskin & Padavic, 1994; see also Fielden &
Cooper, 2002). For instance, data from the United States show that women’s participation in the labor force
has gone from approximately 18% in the late 1800s to roughly 59% in 1996 (see Stroh & Reilly, 1999). A
similar pattern has been observed in many other industrialized countries (International Labour Office, 1996;
also see Powell, 1999b; Stroh & Reilly, 1999). Women’s workforce participation in some European countries
is even higher with 69% of women employed in Great Britain and over 70% in Denmark and Sweden (Fielden
& Cooper, 2002). In North America, 78% of couples are dual earner couples, and 75% of these dual earner families have both partners working full-time (Bond, Galinsky, & Swanberg, 1998). Hence, the majority of
women and men spend a substantial portion of the day in paid employment followed by some shared time
with their partners and/or children.
In this chapter, we have the challenging task of summarizing and organizing the vast literature related to gender and work stress. Several authors before us have attempted to synthesize, expand, and provide some
framework to research on gender, work, and stress (e.g., Barnett, Biener, & Baruch, 1987; Nelson & Burke,
2002b; Powell, 1999a, for reviews). The research reveals that work stress can have severe negative consequences for both men and women (Galinsky, Kim, & Bond, 2001; Guelzow, Bird, & Koball, 1991; Larson
& Almeida, 1999; Paden & Buehler, 1995; Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, & Crouter, 2000). What is less clear is
whether women experience unique forms of occupational stress—the evidence on this issue is not definitive
(Westman, 2002). At this point, it seems appropriate to caution the reader that studies examining the connection between gender and work stress vary substantially in terms of methodology, sampling procedures,
and measures (Westman, 2002); these differences may go a long way toward explaining the many contradictions in research findings. Furthermore, it seems safe to say that there are differences in the way women and
men experience, express, and cope with work stress. Indeed, some have argued that the complexity of the
interaction of gender with predictors of stress is such that trying to isolate the role of gender in stress may be
nearly impossible (Nelson & Burke, 2002a). Our perception is more optimistic, and we hope that this chapter
will help tease out how the norms and roles associated with gender influence this complex relationship.
One of our main contributions to the efforts of reviewers who have preceded us involves casting an even wider
net in our integration of existing research by reviewing material from psychology, sociology, family studies,
social work, and business. We review the most pertinent research and provide what we hope is a slightly different view of these issues by organizing the most relevant research into common themes informed by social
psychological theories. Like Barnett and Hyde (2001), we believe that many of the theories on which social
scientists commonly rely to explain the connection between gender and work no longer match our contemporary realities—at least in the context of most industrialized countries. We revisit this issue in our conclusion,
wherein we consider whether the current approach to our studies of gender and work stress serves to reinforce normative expectations about gender differences.
We believe that gender can have several possible effects on work stress. First, women and men can experience different stressors or varying levels of the same stressors; we review the literature related to the
gendered nature of work stressors in the section entitled “Review of Sources of Stress at Work.” Second,
women and men may have different reactions to stressors such that they experience different levels of strain;
we review the literature that speaks to this issue in the section “Review of Effects of Work Stress.” Third, the
stressor-strain relations observed for women and men may be different. Gender-linked patterns may be attributable to the fact that gender acts as a moderator in these relationships (i.e., events that act as stressors
for men do not do so for women or vice versa). Alternatively, these patterns may be attributable to the use
of different coping strategies by men and women. We review the literature on stress-strain relationships in
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© 2005 by Sage Publications, Inc.
“Review of Strategies for Coping With Stress.” Prior to reviewing the research, however, let us consider the
theories that have guided our survey of the literature.
A Brief Overview of Gender Socialization
According to social learning theory (Bandura, 1986), the acquisition of gender norms follows the same pattern
as any other form of socialization or learned behaviors; it is a set of rules and expectations learned through
observation rather than biologically determined or learned through conditioning (Bandura, 1986). Children are
provided with countless opportunities to observe “appropriate” gender behaviors by watching people in their
immediate environment (e.g., parents, family members, and friends). In addition, the exemplars of gender
behaviors available in many media (e.g., television, movies) provide relevant illustration of how to be a man
or a woman. Teachers, peers, and family also directly reinforce gender-based differential treatment and expectations. Even children’s own expectations concerning career choices, which begin as early as elementary
school (Stroh & Reilly, 1999), are rewarded when consistent with the traditional gendered expectations. It has
been posited that early socialization may determine the jobs women and men consider socially acceptable
(Cohen & Swim, 1995; Melamed, 1995, 1996; Witkowski & Leicht, 1995), their adoption of a traditional gendered arrangement of families (Haddock, Zimmerman, & Lyness, 2003), and the salary men and women feel
entitled to earn (Desmarais & Curtis, 1999). By adulthood, acquired knowledge about the role of men and
women can translate into role division along traditional lines, pressures to conform to traditional roles, and
role conflict that exacerbate the pressures of work and family demands for members of both sexes. Reactions
to role conflict tend to fall along gendered lines, with women more concerned about family stressors and men
responding more to work-related pressures (Duxbury & Higgins, 1991).
The social learning approach has been critiqued for its essentialist view of gender development (see, e.g.,
Bem, 1981, 1985; Deaux & Lafrance, 1998). Although it is undeniable that children develop their gendered
notions of self and society via the same observationally based mechanisms with which they learn other types
of behaviors, children are not simply the passive recipients of gendered information. Instead, children show
signs of active involvement in their gender norm acquisition, likely because of the powerful gender context
that pervades society. The role of social structure in the acquisition of gender norms is highlighted by social
Social Role Theory
Gender has been conceptualized as a “diffuse” status characteristic. Specifically, in Western society, and perhaps in most nations, men and their roles are ascribed more respect, honor, and importance (Berger, Fisek,
Norman, & Zelditch, 1977; Carli, 1991; Meeker & Wetzel-O’Neill, 1985; Ridgeway & Diekema, 1992; Wagner
& Berger, 1997). Eagly (1987, 1997) acknowledges this state of affairs in her social role theory and goes on
to propose that the existing gendered division of labor within society is the root cause of sex differences in
behavior. Specifically, people make inferences about the correspondence between the gender-linked actions
performed by men and women and their inner dispositions (Eagly & Karau, 2002) such that gender acts as
a marker for the social role that adults fill. By virtue of their exposure to the traditional social roles of women
and men, people learn and eventually express the behavioral tendencies that they have observed and come
to believe are desirable for each sex (Eagly, 1987). In effect, they have been provided with scripts for their
behaviors that in turn influence their attitudes, behaviors, and expectations throughout their lives.
As mentioned earlier, the normative division of roles, in which men are expected to be in paid occupations
and women are more likely to be in the homemaker role, is very relevant to the explanation of the gendered
patterns of responses to work stress. This prescribed separation of roles is said to affect two types of genderPage 3 of 24
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© 2005 by Sage Publications, Inc.
related beliefs: (a) the expectations that people have for the traits and behaviors shown by women and men,
or descriptive norms, and (b) the beliefs that women and men have about their own abilities and the skills
they could and/or should develop, or injunctive norms (see Cialdini & Trost, 1998). People come to perceive
biological sex as the determinant of psychosocial gender characteristics; these perceptions are characterized
by gender unidimensionality (Korabik, 1999), with men being attributed all the masculine “agentic” traits such
as assertiveness, ambition, and achievement orientation and women being assigned “communal” qualities,
defined by sensitivity, care, warmth, and responsiveness to others (Wiggins, 1992). Consequently, women
are perceived to be better suited to the role of primary caretakers of children than are men, whereas men are
seen as well matched to the competitive and goal-directed role of worker.
At the individual level, a variety of sex-specific skills and behavioral styles arise from adopting the typical gendered family and economic roles. Women and men proceed to adjust to sex-typical roles by adapting their
social behavior and by acquiring the specific skills that will lead to successful role performance (Carli & Eagly,
1999). In families, greater power and status are usually associated with the male partner’s roles, reflecting
the higher esteem in which male roles are held in our society (Eagly, 1987). In the work domain, gender role
acquisition influences the power and achievement motives of both women and men leading to career-related decisions and strategies for negotiating the challenges and pressures of work and family life in gendered
Role Congruity Theory
Eagly and Karau (2002) recently articulated an extension of social role theory called role congruity theory.
Like social role theory, role congruity theory is based on the premise that gender roles are normative in that
they both describe expectations about the appropriate behaviors of members of each sex and prescribe what
members of each group should ideally do. However, role congruity theory reaches further by examining the
degree of congruity between gender-based roles and leadership roles, arguing that female leaders are at particular risk of prejudice because of their violation of gendered social roles. The theory posits that people are
uncomfortable and may react with prejudice to women who occupy or aspire to leadership roles because of
the “inconsistency between the predominantly communal qualities that perceivers associate with women and
the predominantly agentic qualities they believe are required to succeed as a leader” (Eagly & Karau, 2002,
We agree with Eagly and Karau’s assertion that role congruity theory best describes the psychological
process entailed in the derogation of women who defy the traditional female gender path by taking on leadership roles. In fact, we would argue that congruity theory could easily be extended to explain the challenges of
many, perhaps most, working women. Although there is more diversity than ever in the workplace, organizations and the people within them continue to hold the implicit assumption that the ideal worker is a white man
who is employed full-time. The idea persists that women should be responsible for housework, child care, and
even care of elderly parents but that they should not be employed outside the home or, at the most, should
be a secondary wage earner (Friedman & Greenhaus, 2000). We believe that all working women are violating
the normative assumptions of the role of women to some degree simply by choosing to be employed.
The traditional gender norms that regulate women’s lives conflict powerfully with the breadwinning role associated with employment, and the incongruity of these norms becomes progressively worse as women deviate
further from their traditional expectations. Working part-time violates gender norms to an extent, and these
norms are violated even more when a woman chooses to work full-time. Any additional hierarchical responsibility assumed by female workers, whether it is as a low-level manager or as CEO of a company, exacerbates this incongruity. Thus, we propose that most working women violate some level of social expectations
and that the work they do gets increasingly questioned, judged, or negatively evaluated the more that they
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renounce expectations of their communal behavior by taking on agentic roles. For women, role incongruity
creates additional pressures in two ways. First, it influences other people’s views of the working woman—she
might be defined as an imperfect worker, an unsuitable mother, or both. Second, role incongruity can affect
women’s own self-evaluation, leading them to feel as if they are inadequate in both spheres of their lives.
Role incongruity does not affect only women; we believe that men can also experience the negative ramifications of role incongruity but that the effects for them may be far less damaging. Men who choose to devote a
great deal of their off-work time to childrearing and family care may feel the pressures of role incongruence,
especially if the family pressures substantially reduce the amount of time and effort they can devote to paid
work. The choice to increase one’s caretaking responsibilities, a fundamentally communal act, clearly goes
against the strong expectations regarding male agentic norms. Nevertheless, it is not as strong a violation of
social norms as is women’s decision to work. Furthermore, most men and those around them usually continue
to perceive “work” as their primary role. Thus, the consequences of role incongruity may not be as harmful for
men because men are less likely than women to experience negative consequences related to their decision
in both spheres of their lives.
Connections between Traditional Roles and Work Stress
Men historically had a clear definition of their role as provider, but this role has been challenged as a result of
women’s increasing entry into the workforce (Burke, 2002). As a result, many men are now confused about
their contemporary roles (Burke & Nelson, 1998). Furthermore, because men are traditionally expected to be
more invested in their work than in their family responsibilities (Bardwick, 1984; Stroh & Reilly, 1999), the realization that their expected domain of competence is being challenged is often distressing for many men. Unfortunately, gender-role socialization, along with available exemplars of masculine social roles, provide men
with a highly restricted code of conduct such that they have few emotional and behavioral options available
to them from their traditional repertoire to deal with the pressures of this role confusion (see Burke, 2002, for
a recent review). Traditional norms inform men that they should be self-reliant, be physically tough, and have
their emotions under control (Levant & Pollack, 1995; Pleck, 1981; Pollack, 1998; Real, 1997). Of course,
there is variability among men in the way they adhere to masculinity norms, and it appears that difficulties
are most pronounced for those who operate within a restricted masculine context or who adhere strongly with
these norms (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). Negative effects on men’s health associated with the masculine role
(Courtenay, 2001) include lower life expectancy, gender role strain, increased health problems, higher levels
of drug and alcohol abuse, higher levels of aggression (Burke, 2002), and lower likelihood of seeking professional help to cope with both physical and psychological health problems (Addis & Mahalik, 2003).
By contrast, Murphy (2003), in her paper “Being Born Female Is Dangerous to Your Health,” suggests that
there is a nearly universal pattern of gender inequality in most cultures wherein women form the disadvantaged group. Being a woman is associated with significant negative physical and psychological consequences
such as unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions, higher rates of depression and psychosomatic symptoms, and high rates of experiencing violence (Murphy, 2003). In the context of work and family domains,
women’s normative social roles place them at risk for high rates of strain and stress. Indeed, women are subject to more stressors in both the parenting and employee roles (Barnett & Baruch, 1987), which results in
more work-family conflict for women than men (see Greenhaus & Parasuraman, 1999, for a review).
The theories reviewed in this section suggest that being a man or a woman is associated with its own unique
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set of roles, each with its deleterious consequences. The effects of gender socialization in conjunction with
the societal constraints arising from the gendered division of social roles act to create and reinforce women’s
and men’s perceptions of how best to act and respond to social expectations. Men feel the pressure to meet
their gender roles by being career-minded, promotion-driven primary wage earners whereas women try to
live up to the expectations of homemaker, caretaker, and support giver. Thus, people who strongly adhere to
traditional gender norms will feel more strongly the stress associated with work or family pressures when it is
closely connected to their gendered sphere of activity—men feeling greater pressures from work and women
responding most vigorously to home-based strain (Pleck, 1977). Moreover, when responding to stress, men
and women are expected to act in accordance with their traditional roles, with women being more expressive,
connecting with others, and focusing on the emotions associated with the stress and men showing independence, detachment, and focusing on the task at hand.
At this point, we…
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