Sport+Gender+Stereotyping - PEER ATTITUDES TOWARDS...

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PEER ATTITUDES TOWARDS ADOLESCENT PARTICIPANTS IN MALE- AND FEMALE-ORIENTED SPORTS Thomas R. Alley and Catherine M. Hicks ABSTRACT This study examined gender stereotypes in peer ratings of femininity and masculinity for adolescent participants in three sports. Following a prelimi- nary study of gender stereotyping of several sports, high school students rated unfamiliar cohorts each of whom was described in a single paragraph as either a male or female dedicated participant in one of three sports. A total of 12 different descriptive paragraphs were used in a 2 (race) X 2 (sex) X 3 (sport) design. Each of these paragraphs, although short, ascribed a variety of traits that could be seen by raters as the independent variables: name (initials only), age, race, gender, hours of practice per week, number of competitions/perfor- mances per year, sport, and self-confidence. For this reason, raters were highly unlikely to surmise that sex and sport were the primary independent variables in the study. As predicted, there was a consistent decrease in rated femininity and increase in masculinity for both male and female adolescent targets as they switched from participating in a "feminine" (ballet) to a neutral (tennis) to a "masculine" (karate) sport. These results suggest that sex stereotypes for certain sports may influence who elects to participate and how participants are viewed by others. Research has found remarkably consistent and stable gender stereo- types within our society. In brief, to be feminine is to be "communal" or expressive, while to be masculine is to be "agentic," instrumental, and competitive (Cann, 1991; Spencer & Helmreich, 1978; Best, 1982). Our society also has many stereotypes about participants in sports, including gender stereotypes (see Kaplan, 1979). Despite Sage, 1993, p. 347). Following what Sage and Loudermilk (1979, p. 89) call "one of the oldest and most persistent folk myths .... athletic achievement has been equated with a loss of femininity." Sports partic- ipation is seen as a masculine activity; sports are a traditionally male domain, male sporting events receive far more media coverage, and participation in competitive sports violates females' traditional sex- roles and movement patterns (Eitzen & Sage, 1993; Spreitzer, 1978). A preliminary report of this study was presented at the 6th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Society in Washington, DC. Reprint requests should be addressed to T. R. Alley, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, 418 Brackett Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-1355. Email: ADOLESCENCE, Vol. 40, No. 158, Summer 2005 Libra Publishers, Inc., 3089C Clairemont Dr., PMB 383, San Diego, CA 92117
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The belief that participation in competitive sports tends to masculin- ize females has been found in research using a variety of subject popu- lations (e.g., Harres, 1968; Sherif, 1971). This is to be expected given
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Sport+Gender+Stereotyping - PEER ATTITUDES TOWARDS...

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