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"Are you masculine, feminine... or Both?"

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Fiona Mahar

on 23 October 2012

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Transcript of "Are you masculine, feminine... or Both?"

Prior to the 1970's behavioral scientists assumed that people's gender identity was either primarily masculine or feminine. Gender was measured on single one-dimensional scale with masculine on one end and feminine at the other. Sandra Bem of Stanford University seized this idea and decided to challenge the notion that healthy gender identity is represented by behaving according to society's behavioral expectations for biological sex.

She proposed that that a person who balances both masculine and feminine traits may actually be happier and better adjusted than someone who is strongly sex typed as either masculine and feminine. Constructing the Experiment Bem wanted to explore the notion of androgyny, and its difference between it and high masculinity and femininity. To do this Bem needed that have a way to measure it.

She developed two scales, one for masculinity and one for femininity. Her scale was based on traits and behaviors that were perceived as most desirable for men and women respectably. Constructing the Experiment To make this list she began with long list of positively valued traits that seemed to her and her students to be either masculine, feminine, or neither. She asked 100 of her students (50 men, 50 women) to serve as judges and rate the traits as more desirable for a man or woman on a 7 point scale.
Bem used the top 20 rated traits for men and women for her scales, and also selected 20 traits that no more desirable for either men or women (gender neutral). The final scale had 60 traits that were all jumbled up. It was thought for ultimate psychological health that men should be as masculine as possible, and women as feminine as possible In the early 1970's a new view of gender was theorized by by Anne Constantinople. She theorized that femininity and masculinity are not two ends of a single scale, but should be measured on two separate scales. Scoring After taking Bem's test of going thru the list of traits and rating them 1-7 indicating how well the trait describes the test taker, the respondent would receive three scores: a masculinity score, a femininity score (to get the score you added all the traits of the gender together and divide by 20) and androgyny score (feminine averaged score minus masculine averaged score). The scores ranged from 6 to - 6; positive numbers for femininity, negative numbers for masculinity and scores closest to zero indicated androgyny Results Bem discovered that the scale she had created was both reliable (she tested about 60 of her original respondents again 4 weeks later and found the 1st and 2nd scores correlated highly) and had validity (that the characteristics she used were accurate for feminine and masculine traits ) Results Bem's study changed the way psychologists and society view gender identity, accepting that some people are more androgynous than others, and possessing both masculine and feminine characteristics is not only acceptable but can be an advantage.

Bem's Scale(BSRI -Bem Sex Role Inventory) has formed the basis for gender assessment in hundreds of studies. In addition... Research has shown that androgynous children and adults tend to have higher levels of self esteem and are more adaptable in diverse settings (Taylor & Hall 1982). That androgynous individuals have greater success in heterosexual relationships (Coleman & Ganong 1985) and tend to be psychologically healthier and happier. Are you Masculine, Feminine, or Both?
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