Cross Cultural Studies of Masculinity Femininity

Methodological Issues. Turning to cross-cultural research, measurement is particularly important in studies of gender. A problem arises, for example, when a masculinity/femininity scale developed in one country, often the United States, is translated into another language and administered to persons in other cultures. Spence and Helmreich's (1978) study illustrates this problem. They compared the self-descriptive responses of men in the United States and in Brazil to the PAQ which contains positively valued traits that American research participants identified as male-associated and female-associated. In their study, American men endorsed more male-associated traits than female-associated traits, but Brazilian men had the opposite pattern. Does this mean that Brazilian men have more feminine self-concepts than American men? Probably not. This interpretation pays little attention to how each culture defines masculinity and femininity. Cross-culturally, some items in translated scales may be inappropriate due to content, whereas others may be poorly translated.

Williams and Best's Masculinity/Femininity

Study. Because cultural groups may differ in their definitions of masculinity and femininity, Williams and Best (1990b) used culture-specific measures. University students in 14 countries were asked to describe themselves and their ideal selves using the 300 ACL adjectives. Their descriptions were scored relative to locally defined sex-trait stereotypes derived in their stereotype study (Williams & Best, 1990a).

Williams and Best found that men in all countries were more masculine than women, which is hardly surprising. Interestingly, for the ideal self, both gender groups wished to be "more masculine" than they thought they were. Although some cultural variation in self-concepts was found, surprisingly these differences were not associated with other cultural comparison variables such as economic/social development. Across cultural groups, relative to their own culture's definition of femininity and masculinity, there was no evidence that women in some societies were more feminine than women in others, or that men in some societies were more masculine than men in others.

In contrast, when the affective meaning scoring system was used, there were substantial differences across countries in self- and ideal self-concepts. Men's self- and ideal self-descriptions were stronger and more active than women's, with no general difference for favorability. Moreover, in all countries there was a tendency for both men's and women's ideal self-descriptions to be stronger, more active, and more favorable than their self-descriptions. Differences in men's and women's self-concepts were smaller in more developed countries, in countries where women were employed outside the home, where they constituted a large percentage of the university population, and where relatively modern beliefs about men's and women's roles (e.g., sex role ideology) prevailed.

Hofstede's Masculine Work-Related Values.

Using a different methodological approach to examine masculinity/femininity, Hofstede (1980, 2001), compared work-related values in 40 countries. Attitude survey data from thousands of employees of IBM, a large multinational high-technology business organization, were examined. One scale that Hofstede derived in his analyses concerned the extent to which values of assertiveness, money, and things prevail in a society rather than the values of nurturance, quality of life, and people. While this scale could have easily been named "Materialism," Hofstede named it "Masculinity" (MAS) because male employees assign greater weight to the first set of values whereas females assign greater weight to the second.

Rather than examining the level of masculinity/ femininity for individual participants as Williams and Best (1990b) did, Hofstede computed a MAS index for each of the 40 countries in his study. The five countries with the most masculine scores were Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Italy, and Switzerland; the five countries with the lowest MAS indices were Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland. These indices were correlated across countries with various national comparison variables (e.g., GNP, population density). In highMAS countries there is greater belief in independent decision making, stronger achievement motivation, higher job stress, and work was more central in people's lives. In addition, societal sex roles were more clearly differentiated and men were expected to dominate in all settings.

Calling the scale Masculinity leads to the expectation that scale scores may be associated with cross-country variations in other gender-related concepts. Hofstede's MAS scores were available for 20 of the 25 countries in Williams and Best's (1990a) stereotype study and for 12 of the 14 countries in their masculinity/femininity study (Williams & Best, 1990b). Nonsignificant correlations were obtained between MAS scores and stereotype scores and between MAS scores and M% scores for men's and women's self- and ideal self-descriptions (Best & Williams, 1998/1994). Similarly, Ward (1995) found that Attitude Toward Rape scores were unrelated to Hofstede's MAS scores.

Although the MAS dimension is important, designating this value system "Masculinity" is questionable. Indeed, there is little evidence of convergent validity between Hofstede's definition of masculinity and that of other researchers.

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